Answer: "No, that is one of the myths about RACES, and it is NOT true.
The "declared emergency concept" is a fifty-year old hold-over of the long-gone idea that the RACES was to be a special service in which Amateurs would operate in wartime, hence a "declaration" by the president. One has only to read Section 97 to realize that was its genesis.
A declaration, when and if utilized, is to invoke laws such as those that provide access to state or federal funds. If there is no need for that declaration, the agency responds anyway, and so can the RACES. In fact, there are emergency management agencies that activate their RACES the moment they activate any other staff personnel; even in a potential emergency, such as a hazmat spill of unknown materials. Nonetheless, there are still those who carry this idea firmly entrenched in their minds as the result of misinformation in various publications, so the situation warrants review.
From time to time we see this statement: "Once the emergency is recognized by a state or federal agency it becomes a "declared emergency". That is false, as it implies that the local jurisdiction has no control, when in fact it is the local jurisdiction that may first declare the emergency in order to gain outside help. Further, the recognition of an emergency is not in and of itself a declaration. A declaration is a proclamation for certain legal purposes, not activation of the RACES. It is important to realize that a declared emergency may NOT invoke the call-out of a RACES unit any more than a non-declared emergency. NEED determines call-out, not "declaration".