Updated 05/09/2012 10:39 PM
Apalachin crews get lesson in natural gas fires
Flames and smoke shot into the sky Wednesday in Johnson City, exactly the way supervising officials wanted it to be. Firefighters from Apalachin got a lesson in dealing with natural gas fires courtesy of NYSEG. YNN's Chris Whalen has the story.
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JOHNSON CITY, N.Y. -- Natural gas pours from a pipeline following a digging accident in Johnson City. Moments later, it bursts into flames. Fire crews quickly respond and begin dealing with the situation.
"You're going to need firefighters on the hose lines to protect from heat for buildings, because if they don't, the siding will start to get hot and you can have structure fire on top of the problem you already have. We also have firefighters that are going to be going from structure to structure to see if there's any occupants to evacuate them safely," said Kayley Morgan, assistant chief for the Apalachin Fire Department.
The good news: It was all part of a training session organized by NYSEG to train first responders on how to deal with natural gas emergencies.
"Under this first scenario, there was blowing gas from someone digging into our natural gas facilities, a fire resulted. The second scenario, as I understand it, is a front-end loader brings down a power line onto a natural gas meter and a fire results, the individual operating the front-end loader gets out and is injured," said NYSEG communications manager Clay Ellis.
While the exercise serves as practice for the firefighters, it also serves as a reminder to the public to be careful whenever digging around gas or power lines.
"Call 811 before doing any digging around their homes, whether they're putting in a drainage system or installing mailbox by the road, it really pays to make that call because, free of charge, all the underground facilities will be marked for them so they can avoid them," Ellis said.
Natural gas fires can occur at any time, but fire crews say it will also help them prepare for any incidents that may occur if New York State lifts the moratorium on hydrofracking.
"Whether it's Upstate New York or down in Pennsylvania, we need to be able to figure out how to work around the natural gas for any situations that occur," Morgan said.
Arming crews with another way to keep residents in the area safe.