The Montana DES Preparedness Bureau oversees the various aspects of disaster and emergency preparedness. The Integrated Preparedness Cycle is a continuous process of planning, organizing/equipping, training, exercising, and evaluating/improving that ensures the regular examination of threats, hazards, and risks. Preparedness priorities are developed to ensure that the needed preparedness elements are incorporated through this cycle. Planning is the first of the five steps in the preparedness cycle and is a critical component in community readiness. The MT Disaster & Emergency Services Planning Program works with federal, state, and local partners to provide information on emergency, strategic and operational planning so that updated plans and procedures are in place to help guide preparedness, response and recovery activities.  MT DES plans follow the National Incident Management System which is intended to be used by the whole community and guide Montana’s capability to prevent, respond to, and recover from natural and human-caused disasters.

The Preparedness Program within MT DES administers several non-disaster grants that support our mission to coordinate comprehensive emergency management in Montana. Non-disaster grants focus primarily on Preparedness and Response. These funds support building, sustaining and delivering essential emergency management capabilities.

Description of Preparedness Cycle

Preparedness Resources


Montana maintains disaster plans that with the vision of creating a disaster resilient Montana. These plans focus on the different areas of a disaster with the goal of including planning, response, recovery and mitigation. 

  • Vol I – Preparedness
  • Vol II – Mitigation
  • Vol III – Response
  • Vol IV – Recovery


The overall objective of the MERF is to ensure the effective management of emergency efforts in responding to and recovering from situations associated with disaster emergencies through aligning, collaborating and integrating local, Tribal and state agency emergency operations plans (EOPs).  The operation strategies provided in the MERF are illustrated through Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) which are used to organize resources and capabilities through identification and coordination of primary and support agencies based on authorities and availability of resources in a given functional area.

Click here for more information on the MERF and the associated Emergency Support Functions



Montana Maintains a State Level Hazardous Materials Plan that provides guidance on how the state supports local jurisdictions in the response to Hazardous Materials, including the maintenance and deployment of the Regional Hazardous Materials Teams.

State of Montana Hazardous Material Plan



Large-scale disasters often disrupt normal supply chains, triggering the need for temporary relief supply chains that address critical emergency supplies such as food, water, and fuel. This temporary distribution management system is managed by state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) agencies or voluntary, faith-based, or community-based organizations. Lessons learned during the unprecedented 2017 and 2018 hurricane seasons illustrated the complexity of planning for and establishing temporary distribution management systems that can rapidly source, track, transport, stage, and distribute critical emergency supplies to disaster survivors.

Supply changes are looked in two ways:

  • The private sector normal supply chains that exist before an event
  • The relief supply chains that must be established until private sector supply chains recover.

Distribution Management Plans enable the State of Montana, Tribal and Local Jurisdictions to strengthen capabilities before a disaster, which enhances the effectiveness of resource distribution to survivors after a disaster. Having distribution procedures ready minimizes the time to put commodities in the hands of survivors.

Distribution Planning Resources
The State of Montana’s Distribution Plan
FEMA’s Distribution Management Plan Guide 2.0
FEMA's Guide to Points of Distribution (IS26) 


On December 4, 1984, an extremely toxic chemical escaped from a chemical plant in Bhopal, India. Thousands of people died that night in what is widely considered to be the worst industrial disaster in history. Thousands more died later as a result of their exposure, and survivors continue to suffer with permanent disabilities. Six months later, a serious chemical release occurred at a similar facility in Institute, West Virginia; six people were hospitalized.

These two events raised concern about local preparedness for chemical emergencies and the availability of information on hazardous chemicals, and underscored growing demands by citizens, public interest groups and environmental organizations for information on the toxic chemicals routinely used and released by facilities in their communities.

In response, Congress passed the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) on October 17, 1986. EPCRA established requirements for federal, state and local governments; Indian tribes; and industrial facilities regarding emergency planning and “community right-to-know” reporting on hazardous and toxic chemicals. On October 23, 2018, the passage of America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) created additional responsibilities for state, tribal and local governments.

EPCRA’s emergency planning provisions help communities prepare for potential chemical accidents. EPCRA’s right-to-know provisions help increase public knowledge of and access to information on the presence, use, and release of chemicals at individual facilities. States, tribes and communities, working with facilities, can use the information to improve chemical safety and protect public health and the environment.

EPCRA has four major provisions:

  • Emergency Planning Notification and Emergency Response Plans (Sections 302-303)
  • Emergency Release Notification (Section 304)
  • Hazardous Chemical Inventory Reporting (Sections 311-312)
  • Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (referred to as the “Toxics Release Inventory”) (Section 313)

Emergency response plans contain information that community officials can use at the time of a chemical accident. Community emergency response plans for chemical accidents were developed under Section 303. LEPCs and TEPCs are required to update these plans annually. The plans must:

  • Identify facilities with EHSs on site at or above the TPQs, routes likely to be used to transport EHSs, and additional facilities contributing or subjected to additional risk due to their proximity to facilities with EHSs on site, such as hospitals or natural gas facilities;
  • Describe procedures to be followed by facility owners and operators and local emergency and medical personnel to respond to any chemical release;
  • Designate a community emergency coordinator and facility emergency coordinator(s) to implement the plan;
  • Outline emergency notification procedures;
  • Describe how to determine the area and population likely affected by the chemical releases;
  • Describe local emergency equipment and the facilities and persons responsible for them;
  • Outline evacuation plans;
  • Provide a training program for emergency responders; and,
  • Provide methods and schedules for exercising emergency response plans

 Click Here for the State Hazardous Materials Plan

The following resources may be helpful when doing Hazardous Materials Planning. 

The informative video below is provided by EPA regarding EPCRA and the Right-to-Know Act. 


Threats and hazards that can potentially interrupt one or more critical services that are vital to the health, safety, and welfare of the public exist in all varieties across Montana. When an emergency occurs, the need for these services and functions becomes even more critical making it important for entities to have continuity plans – plans that details how an individual entity will ensure it can continue to perform its essential functions during a wide range of incidents that impact normal operations – and effective continuity capabilities – the ability of an entity to provide uninterrupted services and support, while maintaining viability, before, during, and after an incident that disrupts the entity’s normal operations.


The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides a Continuity Resource Toolkit, which is designed to provide additional tools, templates, and resources to assist in implementing continuity concepts.

Visit FEMA's Continuity Resource Toolkit


Overview. As a recipient of funds from Federal Preparedness Grant Programs, Montana is required to complete a Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA) every three years and Stakeholder Preparedness Review (SPR) every year.  This process is designed to show gaps in capabilities and helps jurisdictions set priorities and strategies in reducing those gaps.  In developing the statewide THIRA-SPR, MT DES is reliant upon data and input from partners and local jurisdictions to form an accurate assessment.

THIRA.  The THIRA is a three-step risk assessment that should be completed every 3 years.  The THIRA should help answer the following questions:

  • What threats and hazards can affect our community?
  • If they occurred, what impacts would those threats and hazards have on our community?
  • Based on those impacts, what capabilities should our community have?

The outputs from this process lay the foundation for determining capability gaps during the SPR process.  In this Collection Tool, the THIRA portions are in gray and blue boxes.

SPR.  The SPR is also a three-step process, but it should be completed annually.  It helps answer the questions:

  • What are our current capability levels and how have our capabilities changed over the last year?
  • What gaps exist between the capabilities we want to achieve and the capabilities we currently have?
  • How have grants contributed to capabilities? (completed at the state level)



The National Planning Frameworks describe how all partners work together to achieve the National Preparedness Goal: "A secure and resilient nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recovery from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk."

  • The "Prevention Framework" describes what should be done prior to, during, and after the discovery of an imminent threat of terrorism.
  • The "Protection Framework" details how communities safeguard themselves against acts of terrorism, natural disasters and other threats and hazards.
  • The "Mitigation Framework" explains the roles, responsibilities and actions to take to avoid, reduce, or transfer risks to long-term risks to people and their property.
  • The "Response Framework" covers the capabilities necessary to save lives, protect property and the environment, and meet basic human needs after an incident has occurred.
  • The "Recovery Framework" gives context to how the community works together to get back on its feet and focus on efforts to restore, redevelop and revitalize the health, social, economic, natural and environmental aspects of the community.

Information about the different Frameworks can be found at FEMA's "National Planning Frameworks" web page. 


Federal Guidance

  • The National Preparedness Goal is “a secure and resilient nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk.”
  • The National Preparedness System  integrates organized processes for the whole community to accomplish preparedness activities and achieve the National Preparedness Goal.
  • Core Capabilities are the means to accomplish identified objectives, executing critical tasks, to target levels of performance. The capacity to reach capability targets should be used to focus attention in Training and Exercise Plans (TEPs) and in funding allocations.
  • Whole Community A government-centric approach to disaster management will not be enough to meet the challenges posed by a catastrophic incident so the importance of involving the “Whole Community” can’t be overstated. The Whole Community concept means that residents, emergency management practitioners, organizational and community leaders, and government officials work together to understand and assess their communities’ needs and decide the best ways to organize and strengthen their resources.
  • National Incident Management System - NIMS promotes a common set of concepts, terminology and organizational processes that facilitate effective, efficient and collaborative incident management by diverse partners, including communities, the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and all levels of government. The adoption of NIMS by State, tribal, and local organizations is a condition for Federal preparedness assistance through grants, contracts, and other activities.
  • Integrating NIMS into Local and Tribal EOPs and SOPs This short document gives useful basic information on the components that an Emergency Operations Plan and Operational Plans and Procedures should include.
  • Developing and Maintaining EOPs - Comprehensive Preparedness Guide (CPG 101 v. 2) is the foundational standard in developing emergency operations plans (EOPs) and gives key concepts to use for any planning activity.
  • Conducting a Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA) CPG 201 v.3 describes a standard process to identify community-specific threats and hazards, set capability targets, and estimate needed resources.