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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are frequently asked questions regarding Vanguard Emergency Management (Vanguard EM) Housing Inspection Services. To view the questions for each section, click the section name to expand the content.

Accounting/Invoicing

How often will I be paid during a deployment?
As an independent contractor, you must submit invoices to Vanguard EM in order to receive payment. Invoices are received Wednesday through Tuesday and approved invoices are paid 10 days after the Tuesday cut-off. You will complete all of your invoicing through Vanguard EM's Electronic Expense Report including inspections.

When should I submit my invoice?
Invoices are accepted Wednesday - Tuesday. Approved invoices are paid 10 days after the Tuesday cut-off.

I don't see a space for the "No Contact inspections" on my invoice. How am I to get paid?
You must invoice these inspections upon release from the disaster, since they are not guaranteed for payment and have to go through a holding process to allow the applicant to reach FEMA or Vanguard EM.

When do I receive the withheld portion of my invoice?
You will receive payment in the pay period following your 30th day from being released from the disaster assuming all equipment is returned and minus any inspections with missing photos, FEMA Corrections (FCORs), & Contractor Corrections (CCORs).

Will I receive an explanation of deductions?
You may request a detailed summary by e-mailing accounting@vanguardem.com.

What expenses must be pre-approved?
Anything not allowable under the Vanguard EM Travel Policy.

Can I arrange my hotel or accommodations on my own, or do I have to book with National Travel?
We prefer that you use National Travel for hotels/lodging, but it is not a requirement. You must make your air travel and car reservations through National Travel.

When will I be able to arrange my travel back home if I am deployed?
Once you have been notified by the Field Supervisor that you have been released, you will receive instructions on how to make arrangements for travel home. Any travel arrangements made without direct confirmation or approval of the Vanguard EM Management team or designated staff are not eligible for reimbursement.

When is it required that I fly to a disaster?
When your mileage exceeds 750 miles one-way you must fly to the deployment location. Vanguard EM must notify FEMA of your estimated arrival day and time.

Can I use my own vehicle if I'm travelling over 750 miles?
No. As a government contractor we have an obligation to use the most cost effective method of travel. You must also use National Travel to make rental car arrangements and follow all policies in the Vanguard EM Travel Policy.

Assigning Inspections

Can I return work assigned out of my location/area?
Yes, if an inspector is assigned work outside of their current work area, they may return it. First, the inspector must call the Field Supervisor to specify their work area, so the Assigning team will not reassign. Inspectors may not return work without first contacting the Field Supervisor.

Will I be able to speak with someone in Assigning?
Inspectors may call the Inspector Helpline (855-482-6447) to speak to the Review Department (option 5). All questions will be handled through the Review Department.

Can I get work assigned in the same area as my friends?
There may be special circumstances where inspectors may request areas or locations, but given the nature of disaster work, this is not always possible. Inspectors should contact their Field Supervisor with any special requests.

Can I change my work assignment area?
If there is a circumstance that arises where an inspector needs to relocate to a different area, they may contact their Field Supervisor. However, inspectors are assigned to specific locations based on applicant registrations.

Will my assignments be located in close proximity?
The proximity of the inspections issued to each inspector is based strictly on the amount of inspections available to be assigned. Vanguard EM always tries to keep inspections as close as possible, but as time goes on and there are fewer inspections to perform, work will eventually spread out over a larger area.

Background Investigation

How long does the background process take?
Generally speaking, the process will take a minimum of 2-4 weeks. In some cases it is shorter, but in others it has taken longer depending on the individual's background.

How far back will the investigation go?
The "e-QIP" process goes back seven years.

What are common reasons to fail the background process?
While there is not a list of automatic disqualifiers available, financial irresponsibility appears to be the most common especially when it involves federal money, i.e. taxes and student loans. We encourage applicants to know what is on their credit report. Lack of response to FEMA inquiries is the other most common reason.

My spouse comes with me to help make appointments. Do they need to complete and pass the background check?
Yes. Anyone who assists with the inspection process in any way is required to also complete and pass the background investigation process.

Information Technology

Will there be technology support in the field?
Depending on the size of the deployment, technical support is available in the field office or through the Inspector Helpline. The most efficient way to get technical support is by dialing Vanguard EM's Inspector Helpline (855-482-6447) and selecting Technical Support (Option 6). An IT support specialist will be available during scheduled hours to answer all questions. Outside of scheduled support hours, inspectors can leave a message and an IT support specialist will return the call as quickly as possible.

Will I be able to contact IT after hours and on weekends?
The Inspector Helpline is always open. For after-hours calls, inspectors can leave a voicemail and an IT support specialist will return the call as quickly as possible.

What applications will be available on my assigned Pad?
You will receive detailed information on applications during field briefings. All inspectors must sign the FEMA Mobile Device Rules of Behavior policy. Any violation of the policy is grounds for dismissal.

If my Pad experiences technical difficulties, can uncommunicated photos and inspections be retrieved?
Photos can be retrieved, but the inspection data cannot. Any data that the inspector has entered into the inspection may be lost and have to be re-entered.

If the FEMA air card doesn't work, can WiFi be used?
Pads can connect to wireless access points. Many times free WiFi access can be found in public facilities, restaurants, and hotels. Instructions will be provided on how to connect to WiFi during disaster briefings.

Inspector General Qualifications

What qualifications do I need to be a disaster housing inspector?
Disaster housing inspectors for Vanguard Emergency Management must be U.S. citizens; be able to pass a moderate background check with FEMA; be able to deploy to various locations for extended periods of time; hold a valid driver's license; be able to self-support in the field for up to three weeks (minimum of $5,000 credit card limit); have a working knowledge of the English language; be able to work under high stress conditions while maintaining a professional demeanor; possess strong organizational skills and multi-tasking ability; be able to climb stairs, walk long distances, and maintain 10 hour work days. It is preferred that inspectors have a high school diploma or GED, knowledge of basic building construction and housing inspections, and basic math and computer skills.

Will Vanguard EM be providing a certification for housing inspectors?
Vanguard EM provides training that permits individuals to perform housing inspections as independent contractors on the FEMA Housing Inspection Services (HIS) contract, but does not offer other forms of certification

Are disaster housing inspectors independent contractors or temporary employees of Vanguard EM?
Vanguard EM's disaster housing inspectors are independent contractors who are required to direct their own work without Vanguard EM supervision and provide their own equipment (except government-furnished tablets) and safety gear.

Can an inspector for Vanguard EM take on outside jobs or provide services to clients other than Vanguard EM?
Yes. As independent contractors, Vanguard EM's inspectors are permitted to take outside jobs or work for other clients, provided that work doesn't cause a direct conflict of interest with Vanguard EM.

What is the preferred method of transmitting documents to Vanguard EM?
Inspectors can scan the documents and email them to info@vanguardem.com or fax them to 855-483-8774.

How does an inspector update their availability for deployment?
In the Risk Manager Inspector Portal, there is a tab for availability where an individual inspector can update their status. Inspectors are expected to update their availability monthly. Lack of updates may affect your status in the deployment queue.

I tried to log into the Risk Manager Inspector Portal and received a message that my account has been deactivated. Who should I contact?
Email info@vanguardem.com to learn why your account has been deactivated.

Inspector Training

What training do I need to take to become a disaster housing inspector?
Inspectors must take Vanguard EM's 'Introduction to Inspections' and FEMA's ethics and travel policy courses. It is recommended that you also attend an ACE4 inspector training session.

Where is Vanguard EM's training conducted?
Classroom training is scheduled in various cities around the country. The schedule is posted on Facebook and in the Risk Manager Inspector Portal. Inspectors can also take FEMA training classes online and have their completion certificates sent to Vanguard EM. Visit http://training.fema.gov/ for more information on FEMA independent study courses.

Are inspectors paid to attend training?
Inspectors are not paid for their time in class; however, certain expenses related to attendance are reimbursable. Reimbursable expenses include per diem, mileage, and overnight hotel stay at GSA rate if travel distance requires it and is approved. You may review the entire Vanguard EM travel policy here.

How are inspectors approved to attend a training session?
If you have not attended an Introduction to Inspector class yet, you may register on the Inspector Portal if you live within 150 miles of a scheduled class. If your distance is farther than 150 miles, you may still register but will only be reimbursed for up to 150 miles each way and other limited travel expenses.

If you have attended the Introduction to Inspector class, have received your FEMA PIV badge, and an ACE4 class is scheduled in your area, you will receive an invitation to register. If you have not previously attended an ACE4 class with Vanguard EM, you will be eligible for the same reimbursements as the introductory class.

I meet the requirements, but there are no training sessions near where I live?
You may choose to attend a class farther than the 150 mile limit, but will only be reimbursed up to 300 miles round trip along with other limited travel expenses. Training classes are held throughout the year around the US. If there is no class near you in the immediate future, there is a good chance we will be in your area at a future date. Regularly check for updates to the training schedule which is posted on Vanguard EM's Facebook page and the Risk Manager Inspector Portal.

Management

What is the chain of command in the field?
The field chain of command goes from Team Leader to the Lead Field Supervisor. The Lead Field Supervisor reports up through the Deputy Chief of Operations and the Chief of Operations. Regardless of the number of levels of management, the inspector's main point of contact is the Field Supervisor, but the overall control and direction of the disaster (in the field) is the Lead Field Supervisor. In some instances, e.g., a small disaster, the Lead Field Supervisor and the Team Leader may be one in the same. The size, scope, and complexity of the disaster may result in additional levels of field leadership which will be communicated during disaster briefings.

Who should the inspector speak with if there is an issue in the field?
The nature of the issue will determine who is responsible for handling it. The Inspector Helpline (855-482-6447) will provide answers to most questions related to badging, finance, review, IT support, safety, and security. An inspector can also call his/her Team Leader for assistance. The Team Leader will either answer the concern or point the inspector to the appropriate resource to address the concern.

If the issue relates to actual or perceived inspector or staff misconduct, the Lead Field Supervisor should be contacted immediately. In the event that the individual cannot be reached, inspectors should call the Inspector Helpline and asked to be transferred to either the Deputy Chief of Operations or the Chief of Operations.

Will Team Leaders be utilized?
The size, scope, and complexity of the disaster will dictate whether Team Leaders will be utilized. In some instances, e.g., small disasters, the Lead Field Supervisor will also serve as the Team Leader. In larger disasters, Vanguard will establish a span of control level and will staff Team Leaders according to that model. Team Leaders will be used for a variety of functions, e.g., field management, ride along managers, and other support roles.

Quality Control (QC)

What is the process if I don't agree with QC results?
Any inspector who gets a QC FCOR (FEMA Correction) will be called by the Lead Field Supervisor that has been designated as the Corrective Action Manager on that disaster so that he or she can explain the results and correction(s) that are needed. This is the inspector's opportunity to discuss/disagree with the QC results. From there, the Corrective Action Manager will handle any differences of opinion directly with the QC Manager.

What are the qualifications of a QC inspector?
To be considered for the role of QC Inspector, an individual must have a minimum of 1,500 FEMA HIS inspections, an excellent customer service track record, a good QC average on their inspections (or excellent quality history), and must have completed online or classroom QC training.

Review

Am I penalized for FEMA Corrections (FCORs)?
Yes. If the FCOR can be corrected by the initial inspector or corrected internally by the Review team, the inspector will receive payment for the inspection. If another inspector must be sent to complete the FCOR, the initial inspector will not receive payment. Also, the number of FCORs an inspector receives is taken into consideration with regards to the amount of inspections assigned to him/her over the course of a deployment. The inspector may also be required to take additional training at the designation of the Field Supervisor.

Do my Contractor Corrections (CCORs) affect my performance?
The number of CCORs an inspector receives is reviewed and taken into consideration with regards to the amount of inspections assigned to him/her over the course of a deployment.

What is the process if I don't agree with a Review decision?
If an inspector does not agree with the decision of a Reviewer, he/she should contact a Review or Field Supervisor.

Can Review staff make changes without speaking directly to the inspector?
Reviewers have the capability to make changes to an inspection, but will always contact the inspector to verify changes.

Will Review be available after hours or on weekends?
Review staff will be available on an extended schedule during disaster activity. Specific hours will be communicated during the disaster briefing.