Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

Have You Completed Your Hazardous Materials Management Plan?

Posted by Jon Elliott on Wed, Feb 25, 2015 wide variety of federal, state and even local laws apply environmental, health and safety (EH&S) protection requirements to chemicals. EH&S compliance personnel are accustomed to complying with chemical management requirements imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and their state equivalents.

In addition, however, organizations that concern themselves with EPA and OSHA must also concern themselves with chemical management requirements imposed by their local fire codes that govern building and fire safety. Buildings and facilities in most states are subject to local codes. These codes require that building construction and operation incorporate design features that address potential hazards—including “hazardous materials” that present physical or health hazards—but these are not limited to fire extinguishers and “rated” structures.

Local codes are based on state codes, which in turn are based on model codes published by the International Code Council (ICC), a nonprofit organization established by code enforcement officials to replace state-and region-based codes with a single uniform set. The International Fire Code (IFC) directly covers fire safety, with its provisions interlocked via cross-references to other ICC Codes (International Building Code, etc.). Most code requirements apply only prospectively, so that conditions legally in existence when code amendments are adopted need not be upgraded unless the local fire official finds that existing conditions present a “distinct hazard to life or property.”

Since the 1980s, facilities in California have had to comply with additional fire code requirements to devise and implement hazardous materials management plans (HMMPs), and to submit hazardous materials inventory statements (HMISs) to their fire departments. These began as local initiatives in Silicon Valley, spread to western states, and in recent years have been incorporated into the IFC. As states have adopted the IFC, facilities throughout the country may now be required to incorporate these requirements into their broader EH&S compliance requirements.

General Fire Code Approaches

Most fire code provisions regulate the selection and installation of equipment and building materials, based on fire-related hazards posed by the facility’s operations (including materials used in those operations). Discrete provisions cover:

  • Types of facilities (underground tanks, semiconductor fabrication lines, etc.).

  • Types of material present (explosives, flammable liquids and gases, etc.).

  • How the materials are used (storage, use in enclosed processes, use in open containers, etc.).

  • Classes of fire prevention equipment (sprinklers, storage cabinets, etc.).

Materials hazards are based on hazard classes. IFC hazard classes cover physical and health hazards. Physical hazards are categorized in the following hazard classes:

  1. Explosives and blasting agents.

  2. Combustible liquids.

  3. Flammable solids, liquids and gases.

  4. Organic peroxide solids or liquids.

  5. Oxidizer, solids or liquids.

  6. Oxidizing gases.

  7. Pyrophoric solids, liquids or gases.

  8. Unstable (reactive) solids, liquids or gases.

  9. Water-reactive materials solids or liquids.

  10. Cryogenic fluids.

Health hazards consist of the following:

  1. Highly toxic and toxic materials.

  2. Corrosive materials.

Each facility that handles or stores hazardous materials may be required by its local fire agency to obtain a permit (determined locally based on type and quantities of materials) and may be required to submit a Hazardous Materials Management Plan (HMMP) and a Hazardous Materials Inventory Statement (HMIS).


Whereas most fire code requirements focus on particular pieces of equipment within discrete areas, HMMPs are programmatic documents more typical of EH&S regulations. Each HMMP must include the following information:

  • HMIS

  • General site plan, drawn to scale, showing hazardous materials storage areas

  • Building floor plans

  • Labeling of storage areas

  • Descriptions of hazardous materials handling

  • Chemical compatibility and safety precautions

  • Monitoring of each storage facility

  • Security precautions

  • Onsite emergency equipment

  • Employee safety training

  • Inspection and record keeping

Each HMIS must list hazardous chemicals and the following information for each:

  • Hazard class

  • Standard identification number

  • Chemical and common name (for individual chemicals or constituents of mixtures)

  • Manufacturer

  • Maximum quantity onsite at any time during the reporting period (typically annual).

Linking HMMP/HMIS Compliance With Other EH&S Requirements

Organizations can design compliance programs that meet HMMP/HMIS requirements at the same time they meet similar requirements imposed by EPA, OSHA and their state equivalents. For example, repeating the major HMMP elements identified above:

  • HMIS – OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS); Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act inventories and Tier II reports. 

  • Site plan – required by many EH&S requirements for routine operations and emergency response planning provisions (e.g., OSHA Emergency Action Plans (EAPs) and Fire Prevention Plans;; Clean Water Act Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plans). 

  • Building floor plans – required by many EH&S requirements for routine operations and emergency planning and/or response.

  • Labeling of storage areas – OSHA standards; hazardous waste requirements (RCRA); Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements; pesticide regulation

  • Descriptions of hazardous materials handling – most EH&S requirements.

  • Chemical compatibility and safety precautions – OSHA standards; RCRA; DOT.

  • Monitoring of each storage facility – most EH&S requirements.

  • Security precautions – OSHA standards; RCRA; DOT; Department of Homeland Security Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS).

  • Onsite emergency equipment – required by response planning requirements.

  • Employee safety training – most EH&S requirements.

  • Inspection and record keeping – most EH&S standards.

Self-Assessment Checklist

Because fire codes contain local variations, and are not always updated annually, each facility that handles potentially hazardous chemicals and other materials may be subject to unique local requirements.

Do any of the organization’s facilities handle chemicals regulated as hazardous by any EH&S regulatory compliance programs?

  • If so, has each such facility identified its local fire protection agency?

  • If so, has each such facility reviewed applicable fire code requirements, to identify requirements applicable to the facility’s chemical and material inventories, and activities that use any of these chemicals?

Has each such facility determined whether it complies with applicable local fire code requirements, including the following?:

  • HMMP requirement, if applicable?

  • HMIS requirement, if applicable?

If the facility is required to prepare an HMMP and HMIS, has it done so?

  • When was the last update filed?

  • Does the facility review hazardous chemical/material handling – periodically, and whenever there are changes to on-site activities that involve hazardous chemicals/materials?

If the facility is required to prepare and implement an HMMP, does it coordinate these compliance activities with other applicable EH&S requirements?

  • If so, which ones?

  • If so, how is this coordination accomplished?

Where Can I Go For More Information?

• International Code Council

Specialty Technical Publishers (STP) provides a variety of single-law and multi-law services, intended to facilitate clients’ understanding of and compliance with requirements. These include:

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About the Author Elliott is President of Touchstone Environmental and has been a major contributor to STP’s product range for over 25 years. He was involved in developing 12 existing products, including Environmental Compliance: A Simplified National Guide and The Complete Guide to Environmental Law.

Mr. Elliott has a diverse educational background. In addition to his Juris Doctor (University of California, Boalt Hall School of Law, 1981), he holds a Master of Public Policy (Goldman School of Public Policy [GSPP], UC Berkeley, 1980), and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (Princeton University, 1977).

Mr. Elliott is active in professional and community organizations. In addition, he is a past chairman of the Board of Directors of the GSPP Alumni Association, and past member of the Executive Committee of the State Bar of California's Environmental Law Section (including past chair of its Legislative Committee).

You may contact Mr. Elliott directly at:

photo credit: Camp Humphreys Fire Department Live Fire Training- U.S. Garrison Humphreys, South Korea - 16 April 2013 via photopin (license)

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