Hudson Local Emergency Planning Committee restarts meetings


By Justin Roshak, Contributing Writer

Hudson’s fire station headquarters sit at 296 Cox Street. (Photo/Laura Hayes)
Hudson’s Local Emergency Planning Committee will restart operations after more than 10 years of inactivity, thanks to an initiative by Fire Chief Bryan Johannes. (Photo by/Laura Hayes)

HUDSON – Hudson’s Local Emergency Planning Committee will restart operations after more than 10 years of inactivity, thanks to an initiative by Fire Chief Bryan Johannes. 

Towns are required by federal law to maintain local emergency planning committees, with a specific focus on chemical accidents.

Hudson’s committee has not functioned in any capacity in well over a decade, though, according to an Oct. 26 memo to the Select Board from Johannes. The last known minutes from the committee are dated 2009, Johannes told the Board. 

As a result, Hudson was decertified as an Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) community by the state. 

The primary purpose of such a committee is planning for chemical accidents. Part of its purview, in conjunction with the Fire Department, will be overseeing chemical inventories for certain kinds of businesses. 

Restarting a long-dormant civic body takes work and funds in the thousands of dollars, however. 

“My approach right now is from a startup perspective,” Johannes told the Community Advocate. 

At the Nov. 1 Select Board meeting, Johannes presented plans to help fund the renewed committee with a grant application to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. 

That grant, capped at $3,000, would provide a funding stream to begin planning efforts and to work toward meeting the requirements for recertification of Hudson’s LEPC, Johannes said.

Johannes also intends to update Hudson’s Hazard Mitigation Plan, which was last amended in October 2017 with a five-year duration. 

An inaugural meeting of Hudson’s new LEPC was scheduled for Monday, Nov. 8, at 3 p.m. at the Fire Department headquarters at 296 Cox St. A representative from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency was slated to attend to inform the public about the LEPC’s role. 

Another item on the agenda was an assessment of Hudson’s ability to work with other communities and government agencies. The meeting is intended to become the first of many.

Citizens interested in participating, either as observers or full LEPC members, should attend future meetings, Johannes said. 

In particular, the chief is looking for people with a chemical background. Other useful skill sets for observers or members include firefighting, emergency medical service, environmental protection, and public works experiences.

“The more expertise I can bring to local planning and preparedness for chemical emergencies, the better,” Johannes said. 

“You can certainly create an organization that’s a little more encompassing,” Johannes said.
Heads of several town departments were scheduled to attend this kickoff meeting. 

A renewed LEPC may have advantages beyond emergency preparedness, Johannes said. An active, well-organized committee can help to bolster grant applications. 

“It certainly doesn’t hurt,” Johannes said. “By maintaining your certification you can always make that claim in grant-writing narratives, that Hudson has a certified LEPC.”


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