Firefighting

Natural Gas: Safe, Reliable, and Potentially Deadly

Issue 2 and Volume 163.

By TROY BUZALSKY On April 19, 2007, the tones rang clear at the Canby (OR) Fire District’s (CFD) station, announcing a call for “Engine 61, Medic 62, and Battalion 6: Gas Leak, 1257 SE Sycamore Street.” As the personnel assigned to this alarm met at the apparatus, I said, “Oh boy, a gas leak. That sounds serious. Good thing we’re sending a battalion chief.” Sixteen minutes later, the station tones sounded again, this time with a large cadence of apparatus dispatched to the same address. But instead of a gas leak, it was for an explosion with firefighters injured. What initially appeared to be a routine gas leak nearly turned tragic with a click of a furnace autoignite pilot. A telecommunications subcontractor was performing underground horizontal boring operations in a residential subdivision when he cut into a natural gas line, causing a leak. He notified Northwest Natural Gas personnel, who…

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