Emergency Responders Play Key Role in Okaloosa Gas District Safety Effort
Every day, over two million miles of underground pipeline safely transport and distribute natural gas to millions of consumers in the United States. From design and construction to operations and maintenance, natural gas pipeline companies and utilities like Okaloosa Gas District set high standards to keep this system incident free. A key component of this safety commitment involves having an emergency preparedness plan in place and partnering with local emergency responders. “When responding to a natural gas pipeline emergency, it’s critical that we all work together to keep residents safe, especially since emergency officials may be the first ones on the scene,” explains David Cole, Safety Director for the District.
To better coordinate response efforts, Okaloosa Gas District wants to remind emergency officials of the proper procedures to follow if dispatched to a natural gas leak or incident. “Our employees go through rigorous training on both safety inspection procedures and emergency preparedness,” says Cole. “We have a plan in place in case of a natural gas incident, and we need our partners and neighbors, including our local emergency officials, to be familiar with it as well.”
Although Okaloosa Gas District holds timely briefings to train emergency officials and share our emergency response plan, you may request a copy of this plan at any time by contacting Okaloosa Gas District at 850-729-4700. You can also call this number for information about upcoming training sessions and events.
In the meantime, here are some simple safety dos and don’ts for emergency officials to keep in mind if dispatched to a pipeline incident (keep in mind that these tips are general guidelines; they do not replace any steps outlined in an emergency response plan):
•Call us at 850-729-4700 if you are the first to respond to the incident.
• Protect the public by evacuating and securing the area and providing traffic control and emergency services if necessary.
• Let escaping gas burn if on fire.
• Use only intrinsically safe equipment.
• Use a combustible gas indicator to determine the location of the leak.
• Operate any of our pipeline system equipment.
• Turn vehicles or equipment on or off or use a device that might create a spark, like a cell phone, flashlight, etc.
Okaloosa Gas District serves natural gas customers in Okaloosa County, southern Santa Rosa County, portions of northern Escambia County, and southern Walton County. If you have questions about this news story, call 729-4700 or e-mail us.