The Federal Emergency Management Agency will partner with the Corporation for National and Community Service to form a new disaster response service corps, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced Tuesday.

Called FEMA Corps, the organization will form a new division in AmeriCorps’s National Civilian Community Corps. The five-year agreement provides for a 1,600-member disaster relief organization that will receive work orders from FEMA. It will more than double the NCCC’s ranks.

“This new partnership will help us respond to disasters in a way that is cost-effective, and that draws on the strengths of our communities and our people,” Napolitano said in a statement.

The germ of the idea formed last year after FEMA’s deputy director Richard Serino observed AmeriCorps volunteers performing disaster relief work following a tornado in Joplin, Mo., and a fire in Bastrop, Tex.

“The energy that they brought to the center, the enthusiasm, infected everybody that was there,” Serino said in a telephone interview.

By November, FEMA was in discussion with Americorps and the Corporation for National and Community Service about creating a dedicated disaster relief organization.

NCCC members work on a $4,000 stipend that covers their 10-month term, which makes them less expensive than either a full time reservist or employee. The new program is projected to save $60 million per year, said Sandy Scott, a spokesman for the Corporation for National Community Service.

Scott said the new recruits will not replace FEMA’s roster of staffers and reservists, who spearhead much of the agency’s disaster response efforts. FEMA Corps will focus on

NCCC has begun recruiting and hopes to have 480 field-ready recruits by September, around the start of hurricane season.