Recognizing Public Works Professionals as First Responders

While police, fire, and EMS are often the three most recognized first responders, public works is also often silently there—providing vital support to emergency response partners, helping protect essential services, and restoring those services following an emergency.

In alignment with the APWA strategic initiative to be the voice of public works, APWA is proud about the creation of a national “Public Works First Responder” symbol as well as using it to support and promote public works first responders.

In the following video, Philip Mann, Public Works Director for the City of Gainesville, Florida, discusses the symbol and how public works professionals and emergency managers can work together to restore services after a disaster.


  • In 2003, President George W. Bush issued Presidential Policy Directive 8 (PPD-8) officially recognizing public works as first responders.
  • In 2010, Mississippi, under House Bill (HB) 664, recognized public works professionals as first responders.
  • In 2017, the APWA Board of Directors approved the adoption of a national “Public Works First Responder” symbol for use throughout North America to identify public works personnel and acknowledge their federally mandated role as first responders.
  • In 2019, the US Senate passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 15 (S.Con.Res.15), “Expressing support for the designation of October 28, 2019, as Honoring the Nation’s First Responders Day.” Public works is specifically included.
  • In 2022 New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu signed into law SB325, formally recognizing public works employees as first responders.
  • In 2022, New Hampshire passed HB 536, “An Act relative to death benefits for public works employees killed in the line of duty, and relative to workers’ compensation offsets for certain retirement system benefits.”
  • Public works is often considered “the silent arm of public safety” … usually without fanfare. Public works professionals are often the first on scene and the last to leave the scenes of disasters—no matter the peril.
  • The National Incident Management System (NIMS) lists public works alongside police, fire, and public.

Public Works First Responder Merchandise

Show your support for public works as a first responder. Help raise awareness among all citizens, government officials, and other first responders about the critical role public works plays in emergency management efforts. Merchandise and apparel from hard hat stickers and decals to t-shirts and hoodies to license plates are all available in the APWA Store.

Public Works First Responder Graphic Files & Usage Guidelines

Logo Guidelines: The use of this symbol to attempt to gain access to areas or situations not designated for public works is strongly discouraged.

  • Dimensions: 2:1 (rectangular) or 1:1 (square) aspect ratio.
  • Colors:
    • Black – #000000, Pantone 6 C
    • Orange – #e86724, Pantone 1585 C
    • White – #f3f0f0
  • Font: Abadi MT Condensed Extra Bold

Graphic File Downloads 

Usage Examples

Usage example graphic