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Legal Announcements - Public Notices and Guidance



The next SERC meeting is scheduled for 10 am on June 25, 2012 at the offices of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (3041 Sidco Drive, Nashville, TN 37204, Suiter Room). A representative of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 4 will be speaking about the EPA Risk Management Program. RMP requires facilities with multiple hazardous materials to prepare and maintain contingency plans for mitigating hazards. Other new changes for the hazardous materials program will be discussed, including the HAZMAT Team Operations Course (HMTO 2012), 2012 ERG issue and the OSHA HAZCOM changes under the Globally Harmonized System. This meeting is open to the public. Persons wishing to address the SERC must schedule with the Chairman for introduction and speaking rule compliance.


A meeting of the State Emergency Response Commission was held on December 15, 2011 at the offices (Suiter Room) of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Houston Barracks, 3041 Sidco Drive, Nashville, TN 37204-1502. A briefing was presented on the merits of changing report requirements for SARA Title III to become electronic only called E-Plan, identified the 72 counties that have adopted E-Plan as of August 2010, reported on growth of the HMEP ($548,087) of which HMEP sub-grants total $68,900, reported that 4,095 students have received HAZMAT training by TEMA in 2010, and that 1,873 have received HAZMAT training as of 30 June 2011, identified that 557 HAZMAT incidents were reported to TEMA and 16% of all incidents in 2011. A discussion ensued to project changes anticipated in the federal government regarding enforcement, including OSHA. A motion was adopted to accept the new HAZMAT brochure and distribute it to the regions for use, an LEPC Handbook and the TEMA HAZMAT Oversight Operations Guide were approved. A motion was passed to adopt digital EPCRA Reporting  Tier II through E-Plan not later than March 1, 2014. The SERC also approved the Williamson County LEPC appointments. The next public meeting was scheduled for June 12, 2012.

A meeting of the State Emergency Response Commission was held on August 16, 2011 at the offices of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Houston Barracks, 3041 Sidco Drive, Nashville, TN 37204-1502. A briefing was presented on the merits of reporting digitally for companies required to report chemicals or waste storage under SARA Title III. A draft brochure has been prepared to promote public awareness of hazardous materials. This brochure will be ready for approval by the Commission shortly.

The State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) held a public meeting at the TEMA offices on August 27, 2010. This meeting was one of the two regularly scheduled meetings per year and included discussion of creating a hazardous material threats and improvement of safety, some pictorial events and some history for the purpose of promoting public knowledge and preparedness. The next meeting was tentatively scheduled for February 2011.

In the previous SERC meeting, the State Emergency Response Commission met on Friday, March 12, 2010 in the Suiter Room at TEMA, 3041 Sidco Drive, Nashville, TN. In summary, that meeting discussed the Environmental Protection Agency decision to fine Egyptian Laquer and Lasko, Incorporated of Williamson County for failing to properly report quantities of chemicals on hand under Title III (SARA). The SERC reviewed ways of improving protections for the public and recommended developing an outreach program to the counties to enhance the effectiveness of county government hazardous materials planning and to encourage Local Emergency Planning Committee involvement. Also discussed were ways to improve the utilization of electronic reporting of Tier II information for compliance with EPCRA (and Title III, SARA).


TEMA will announce meetings of the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) at this site to ensure that the public is aware of scheduled meetings. The SERC is formed to meet the federal requirements of law under Public Law 499, Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).

The membership of the SERC includes:

  • The Director of TEMA (chairman)
  • The Adjutant General, Department of Military
  • Commissioner, Department of Environment and Conservation
  • Commissioner, Department of Health
  • Commissioner, Department of Labor and Workforce Development
  • --must also be present or be represented by Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration

The State Emergency Response Commission must:

  • Provide expertise and advice to the Governor in regard to response to all types of hazardous materials emergencies.
  • Prepare a hazardous materials emergency plan for response and public safety. This plan may be integrated into the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan (TEMP) signed by the Governor.
  • Evaluate the need for resources necessary to develop, implement and exercise the hazardous materials emergency plan. Make recommendations to the local governing body to obtain resources required.
  • Review and approve annually or more frequently as required LEPC hazardous materials emergency plans or make recommendations for improvement as necessary. The plan may be included in the county basic emergency operations plan (BEOP). Review and approve appointments to LEPC.
  • Receive notices of accidents or other releases and follow-up emergency notices from the LEPCs.
  • Proactively review actions taken by the chemical industry and others required to notify or report as required under the law and optionally commence a civil action against an owner or operator of a facility for failure to provide information under Section 303(d) or for failure to submit Tier II information under Section 312(e)(1).
  • Develop and implement a hazardous materials reporting system in accordance with the provisions of Title III, including a system to receive, process and store information, and report to appropriate officials on hazardous materials.
  • Make provisions for public notification of committee activities, public meetings to discuss the emergency plan, public comments, response to such comments by the committee and distribution of the plan.
  • Establish procedures for receiving and processing requests from the public for information under Section 324 and Tier II information under Section 312. Provide requested information to those who request it within 45 days. Appointment of the TEMA Title III Coordinator is recommended with the title of Coordinator of Information or a similar designation.

Go to Event History to see those incidents covered by the most recent executive order or proclamation.

Rules and Regulations

The are several state laws, regulations and Executive Orders that apply to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, its activities and/or disasters and emergencies in Tennessee in general. For precise guidance, please go directly to the reference cited.

Executive Orders of the Governor

Governor's Executive Order 15

Governor Ned McWherter's Executive Order 15 is the document that establishes TEMA as the lead agency for the coordination of all emergency response activities of state government. EO15 also establishes the Emergency Services Coordinator (ESC) program, and requires the Commissioners and directors of all state agencies to designate a primary and alternate ESC, and provide them with a state vehicle, pager, cellular phone and radio capable of communicating with TEMA.

Governor's Executive Order 7

Governor Ned McWherter's Executive Order 7 makes TEMA the lead agency for carrying out the provisions of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986, specifically making TEMA the administrative arm of the State Emergency Response Council.

Governor's Executive Order 49

Governor Phil Bredesen's Executive Order 49 establishes the State of Tennessee Public Safety Wireless Interoperable Communications Advisory Board to encourage public departments and agencies to purchase similar communications equipment that will operate with each other. This is intended to ensure that the improved exchange of information would expansively improve government cooperation and performance during emergencies.


 Attorney General's Opinions



According to the Attorney General (OAG 09-140) the director of a county emergency management agency may establish a secondary emergency operating center somewhere in the county when the mayor has approved the measure and when the county commission has approved the measure. This is so even if the city where the center is operated will pay for it.

The opinion further clarifies that the mayor is in charge (command and control) of the emergency management agency, not any commissioner or other official. The act does not give the county mayor sole authority over all decisions of the emergency management agency, but requires the approval of the county commission. The intent of the law is likely to require the county commission to develop or approve the emergency plan and any plan which would require fiscal expenditure. 

VOLUNTEERS- According to the Attorney General (OAG 04-174), volunteers do not qualify for “worker’s compensation benefits in the event of death or injury.” “Volunteers” are individuals who do not work for the government of the State of Tennessee. This definition does not include any employee of the government volunteering for service not typically in the employee’s normal duty or at the employee’s normal workplace. Volunteers still must be registered with the Board of Claims.  Volunteers are provided “sovereign immunity” in states that have reciprocal agreements for emergency management. Volunteers must be reimbursed for all actual and necessary travel and subsistence if funds are available. If a person is paid more than expenses, that person is no longer a volunteer. TEMA policy is that volunteers will not be deployed outside the state as part of a federal or state team under EMAC or any other emergency management program. This ensures that state law (TCA 58-2-403) (EMAC agreement) requirements are met regarding payment of compensation for deaths or injuries in the line of duty.


  Emergency Management References in State Law

There are several state laws that apply to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, its activities and/or disasters and emergencies in Tennessee in general.

Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 58, Chapter 2

TCA 58-2-101 - Disasters, Emergencies and Civil Defense, is the organic act that establishes TEMA, and defines what constitutes an emergency within Tennessee. This chapter also requires each county within the state to create and staff an emergency management organization, and directs that all local emergency plans conform to the design and functional requirements of the state's. Additionally, the law that previously existed as TCA 7-86-201 (the Public Safety Communications Act), has now been subsumed into this chapter. This is the legislation that creates the Public Safety Committee and defines standards for emergency dispatchers and the training they receive. This chapter runs through section 58-2-124.

Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 58, Chapter 2, Part 4

TCA 58-2-401 - Authority for Compact. This part authorizes civil defense and disaster compacts to be formed by the Governor. This includes the Civil Defense and Disaster Compact and the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. Articles of the agreements are found here.

Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 58, Chapter 2, Part 6

TCA 58-2-601 - Accidents Involving Hazardous Materials.  This part establishes a requirement to report hazardous materials accidents involving placarded transportation, other notifications and cleanup requirements.

Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 58, Chapter 8

TCA 58-8-101 - Mutual Aid and Emergency and Disaster Assistance Agreement Act of 2004. This chapter consists of 15 sections that grant special powers to counties to invoke mutual aid provisions.

Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 65, Chapter 15, Section 126

TCA 65-15-126 requires persons transporting nuclear fuel through the state of Tennessee to notify TEMA and the Department of Safety of the act, and to provide for the appropriate safety precautions and escorts for the vehicles.

Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 68, Chapter 202, Section 104

TCA 68-202-104 requires the agency to provide training in the detection and monitoring of radioactive materials to personnel who staff the four commercial vehicle inspection centers across the state.


Emergency Management Law Changes

Law from 2011

HB 0544/SB 1476 w/Amendment # 3 was passed and coded as TCA 58-2-133. Education and Duty Requirements of Local Emergency Management Directors (LEMD). The law, Public Chapter 365, establishes minimum prerequisites for employment of new LEMD. A new director must have the minimum training and education required by the chief local elected official (CLEO) (usually the county mayor) in a job description approved by the governing body of the local jurisdiction, plus--

        •   be 18 years of age
        •   be a citizen of the U.S. and Tennessee
        •   be a high school graduate or equivalent
        •   not be convicted or guilty of a felony
        •   and, have a valid Tennessee driver's license


  •   be serving as director of a local emergency management agency on July 1, 2011 and have one of the following--
  •  be a graduate and have received a baccalaureate degree, or
  •  be a graduate and have received an associate's degree and have two years experience in emergency management or a related field, or
  •  possess four years experience in emergency management or a related field.

The LEMD must maintain knowledge of the--

  • principles and practices of emergency management
  • emergency management planning concepts
  • disaster response and the functions of government and private organizations
  • laws and regulations relating to emergency operations, and
  • computer operations and the operation of other basic office equipment.  

The LEMD must possess the skill and ability to--

  • plan, organize, assign, inspect and direct the work of others
  • evaluate situations and make coherent decisions
  • express ideas clearly, concisely and convincingly, both orally and in writing, including communicating under stressful situations
  • establish and maintain an effective working relationship with the public, businesses, industries, volunteers and employees,
  • operate an emergency response vehicle and communications equipment
  • work from a mobile unit and outdoors in all types of weather conditions during an emergency and simulated situations, and
  • direct the activities of a 24-hour 7 days-a-week operation.

The LEMD has the following duties and responsibilities in addition to those imposed upon him by his approved job description--

  • performs under executive direction (CLEO)
  • coordinates and assists in the revision and update of the local emergency operations plan and field operating guides in conjunction with elected and appointed local government officials and private volunteer and civic organizations
  • develops and manages the local agency's annual budget in accordance with local guidance
  • collects initial disaster intelligence information, extracts essential elements of information and prioritizes the use of critical resources
  • prepares and transmits situation reports to TEMA as directed by state procedures
  • assesses the impact of major emergencies and initiates requests for declaration of emergency for the CLEO's signature
  • serves as the focal point for damage assessment information and coordinates relief activities through the CLEO and the regional and state emergency operations center
  • promotes and supervises the development of various emergency management related public education and information services, such as training programs, brochures, speaking opportunities and media programs
  • develops and maintains an emergency operations center to ensure direction, control and continuity of local government during emergencies and disasters
  • conducts hazard analysis, capability assessment and vulnerability analysis and makes periodic updates
  • remains "on call" for response to any type of disaster or major emergency, natural, man-made or technological
  • provide assistance to private sector organizations on issues pertaining to emergency management and homeland security
  • provide resource coordination and technical assistance during major emergencies and disasters
  • prepares after action reports, as required
  • develops and implements activities relative to emergency management within the territorial limits of the emergency management area for which the director has jurisdiction
  • establishes emergency management standards for the jurisdiction
  • develops and implements the National Incident Management System (NIMS) to mitigate, prepare for, response to and recover from major emergencies, terrorist events and disasters, and
  • performs duties directed by the CLEO.

The LEMD must attain the following minimum education--

  • Minimum training and education established by the CLEO
  • FEMA courses established by TEMA
  • HAZMAT Operations Level Course
  • Damage Assessment Workshop
  • NIMS courses offered by TEMA within two years of position assignment
  • Attain emergency management professional certification
  • Maintain currency in new technologies.

These requirements are integrated into TCA 58-2-133. Passed into law May 30, 2011 and effective July 1, 2011.

Law from 2010

Chapter No. 1091 (HB2822/SB2839). National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) participation required. Amends TCA Title 6, Chapter 58 by requiring all counties and municipalities with a flood insurance rate map or flood hazard boundary map published by FEMA that identifies a special flood hazard area within its boundaries to meet the requirements for participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) on or before June 30, 2012. A county or municipality without such a map must, within twenty four (24) months from the effective date of any such map published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), meet the requirements for participation in the NFIP

Laws from 2009

These acts may directly affect operations of emergency management.

SB-0890/HB-0713 - Emergency Management -

Changes emergency management director to report to the chief local elected official and requires the CLEO to write the LEMD's job description.

SB-1243/HB-0815 - Emergency Management

Changes laser pointer law

Adds firefighters, emergency medical technicians and any other emergency management personnel to the law that prohibits pointing a laser at a law enforcement officer with the intent to harm.

SB-0107/HB-0393 - Motor Vehicles

Prohibits reading or sending a text message by mobile phone or other device; $50 fine and $10 court cost; officers, firemen and emergency management in official duty are exempted.

HB-0980/SB-1685 - TEMA

Coordinates governmental and private utility systems in disaster; requires 100 percent reimbursement to a responding governmental or private utility helping another under mutual aid chapter 8, Title 58.

HB-1778/SB-1992 - Gun control

Prohibits governor from seizing weapons while under martial law

Chapter 853. (10-7-504)

Safeguarding confidential information on laptops and removable storage devices used by government. Requires state agencies to create safeguards and procedures for ensuring that confidential information regarding citizens is securely protected on all laptop computers and other removable storage devices. Failure to comply creates a cause of action or claim for damages against the state.
  Chapter 693. (55-8-158)
Parking or leaving a motor vehicle on an exit or entrance ramp. No person shall stop, park or leave any motor vehicle, attended or unattended, on the paved or unpaved portion of any entrance or exit ramp of any highway. Provisions are made for emergencies and compliance with federal law.
  Chapter 853. (10-7-504)

Confidential status of personal information of government employees. Amends protected information of state employees to include home telephone and personal cell phone numbers, residential information, including the street address, city, state and zip code (same for county, municipal and other public employees). [adds to previously existing law: unpublished telephone numbers, bank account information, driver's license information (except as it applies to the state job duties), social security number and same information for state employees' immediate family or household members.]