Prepare for Natural Disasters

Many natural disasters occur with little or no warning. ATF urges everyone to take steps to protect family and property by having a disaster preparedness plan in place before any disaster occurs.

ATF is committed to ensuring public safety by working directly and through partnerships to assist federal firearms licensees (FFL) and federal explosives licensees and permittees (FEL/FEP) in complying with federal laws and regulations.

A disaster preparedness plan should be established by all FFLs and FEL/FEPs to safeguard their businesses by protecting explosives, firearms, and required records. If necessary, licensees and permittees should take precautionary steps by contacting their local ATF field office regarding:

  • The relocation of explosives magazines and records from business premises to a safe location.
  • The removal of firearms and ammunition inventory, ATF Forms 4473 and 3310.4, and acquisition and disposition (A&D) records from business premises to a safe location.

FEL/FEPs: Steps to prepare for an impending natural disaster

  • For impending natural disasters (e.g., flood, forest fire or hurricane), consider relocating your explosive materials to a compliant explosives storage magazine in an area less susceptible to damage. Contact your local ATF office and provide the following information:
    • Business name, licensed premises and storage magazine address (including magazines used for the temporary relocation of explosives), and FEL/P number.
    • Emergency contact name, address and telephone number. 
  • This information is extremely useful in the event ATF or local authorities need to contact you regarding damage to your business premises and/or inventory. In certain emergency situations, local field supervisors may have the authority to verbally approve certain requests, such as adding a new magazine. Also, consider maintaining an off-site, back-up copy of critical records when a significant risk of disaster is predicted for an area.

FFLs: Sample disaster plan checklist

The following sample five-part checklist is recommended for disaster preparedness:

  • Records: Create and maintain a current set of records that includes insurance policies, suppliers and contact lists, and computer records backup. Store these in fireproof and waterproof locations. Keep current copies of important records off-site. If a disaster is imminent, contact the ATF Firearms Industry Programs Branch at 202-648-7090 to seek approval to remove all business records to a safe location.
  • Employees: Maintain a list of all employees’ phone numbers, and if warranted, create a phone tree for notifications. Establish a plan under which, in the event of disaster, employees know whom to call to report that they are safe.
  • Inventory: Conduct an inventory and ensure that records are up to date. These will be vital to assisting law enforcement and establishing losses for insurance purposes. Secure your inventory by utilizing safes, cable locks and other measures that can deter burglaries and looting. If a disaster is imminent, consider relocating inventory. FFLs are encouraged to inform ATF of the new firearms inventory location.
  • Insurance: Review your policy annually. Most policies do not cover floods and other natural disasters. Consider enhancements to your policy for more complete coverage and reimbursement for business disruption in addition to physical losses.
  • Security: Review your alarm system and consider updating antiquated systems like older camera systems. Consider having more than one security service evaluate your current system.

Additional Information for FFLs, FELs and FEPs on preparation for potential disasters such as hurricanes, floods and tornados

Last Reviewed July 12, 2024