Guide Chemical Safety and Climate Change Preparedness Resources for Local Governments

The Massachusetts Office of Technical Assistance (OTA) is actively building awareness by educating businesses, first responders, and Local & Regional Emergency Planning Committees about preventing potential climate change related chemical accidents that will improve community safety by incorporating toxics use reduction into local emergency preparedness and planning frameworks.

Table of Contents

OTA Training and Technical Assistance

Without proper planning, companies that use or store hazardous chemicals can unknowingly pose safety risks to workers, first responsers, and communities when critical infrastructure is damaged due to the severe weather events associated with heat waves, flooding, intense storms, blizzards or power outages.

The Office of Technical Assistance and Technology (OTA) provides free and confidential technical assistance to Massachusetts businesses and toxics users to help them reduce their use of hazardous and toxic chemicals, or conserve water, energy and other resources. 

OTA can help your local government agencies such as fire and health departments or your Local or Regional Planning Committees (L/REPCs) by:

  • Providing training on OTA’s interactive map to identify toxics users in relation to climate change risks in your community.  OTA staff is available to present our online mapping tool at your next L/REPC or agency meeting.
  • Providing outreach and interventions with toxics users in your community through fire department, health department or other agency referrals.   You can refer companies to OTA for free and confidential site visits at any time or as part of your Municipal Vulnerability Program plan.  OTA is an available resource for all L/REPCs.
  • Sharing access to publicly accessible data on chemical use and storage by town.

For more information, contact Tiffany Skogstrom, (617) 626-1086, Tiffany.Skogstrom@Mass.Gov

Tools for First Responders

Cameo Chemicals – Database of Hazardous Materials

Cameo Chemicals allows the user to find response information, such as explosion risks or fire fighting measures, for hazardous materials, build a list of chemicals stored in your community or moving by railway, and see what hazards or reactions might occur if those chemicals were mixed together.

Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders (WISER)

WISER is a system designed to assist emergency responders in hazardous material incidents. WISER provides a wide range of information on hazardous substances, including substance identification support, physical characteristics, human health information, and containment and suppression advice.

CAMEO Suite Programs

This document describes CAMEOfm, CAMEO Chemicals, MARPLOT, and ALOHA and their uses.

Descriptions of CAMEO Suite Programs (PDF)

Emergency Response Apps for Smart Phones

Disaster Apps for Your Digital Go Bag

This U.S. Department of Health and Human Services webpage has downloadable apps to use on your smart phone. They are developed to run on specific mobile platforms, such as iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android, or Blackberry.

More Apps

The Fall 2017 Pioneer Valley workshop featured a list of recommended smart phone apps for emergency response personnel. This list is not exhaustive. The information is provided here for the convenience of users.

List of Emergency Preparedness and Response-Related Smart Phone Applications (PDF)

LEPC and REPC Hazardous Emergency Plan Templates

The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA or SARA Title III) requires the formation of Local or Regional Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs and REPCs).

These committees are responsible for protecting their communities from incidents involving hazardous materials. This involves developing and updating emergency response plans and educating the community about chemical facilities and the actions that could be taken if there is a chemical accident.

Visit the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency website to download the:

  • Single Community Hazardous Materials Emergency Plan Template and
  • Regional One Plan Template.

Sample Emergency Planning and Continuity Planning Tools

Facility Emergency Plan Summary (Pre-plan) Template

This template is a suggested format for use by local fire departments when they request facility pre-plans. Fire departments can adjust the format to fit their needs, however, a standard format should be used for all facilities submitting a pre-plan.

Facility Emergency Plan Summary (Pre-Plan) Template (DOCX)

Facility HAZMAT Screening Tool

All facilities that use or store toxic or hazardous chemicals are encouraged to use this sheet to assemble critical chemical information from Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) as part of the emergency planning process. Using a tool like this can improve facilities' emergency plans and pre-plans.

HAZMAT Screening Tool (PDF)

Sample University Continuity Plans

UMass Boston Checklist for Departments (PDF)

UMass Boston Checklist for Faculty (PDF)

UMass Boston Checklist for Researchers (PDF)

Grants and Training for Municipal Organizations

Toxics Use Reduction Grants

Municipal departments, regional and statewide organizations, and community and environmental organizations are eligible for TURI Community Toxics Use Reduction Grants. TURI awards funds to help those organizations promote healthier communities and educate people about safer alternatives.

Workplace Safety Training Grants

The Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) offers Workplace Safety Training Grants to fun workplace safety training. The goal of this highly successful program is to promote safe and healthy conditions in the workplace through training, education, and other preventative programs. Companies and organizations of any size operating within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts covered by Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Law (MGL 152) are eligible for funding.

Worker Health and Safety Training with TNEC at UMass Lowell

The New England Consortium-Civil Service Employee Association (TNEC-CSEA) is a worker health and safety training program based at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.  Climate change impacts are increasing the likelihood of extreme weather events and TNEC-CSEA has developed courses and curriculum that address post-storm recovery, clean up and resiliency. Programs can be offered on-site and at our training center for public agencies and private companies.

Maps and Databases

Local and Regional Emergency Planning Committees, Regional Planning Agencies, local governments and community organizations can use mapping tools and databases to understand and assess the presence of toxic or hazardous chemicals in their communities. Better emergency planning can be achieved by analyzing the location of toxics in relation to other geospatial factors.

Massachusetts Toxics Users and Climate Vulnerability Factors

OTA developed this Map of Massachusetts Toxics Users and Climate Vulnerability Factors.

Map Instructions:

  1. Type in an address into the search bar on the top right of the map.
  2. Click on the "Layers" drop down menu to change the displayed information.
  3. For assistance navigating or intepreting this map, contact OTA.

More Tools to Assess the Presence of Toxics by Region

Related Mapping Tools

2017 Workshop Presentations

Image credits:  Shutterstock