Getting smart with your emergency responders

July 11, 2018 By    
Photo Courtesy of The Propane Gas Association of New England

Each year, PGANE conducts a three-day training at state fire academies in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Photo courtesy of the Propane Gas Association of New England

It’s important for propane retailers to have relationships with their elected officials and community leaders, but have you ever considered the importance of connecting with your area emergency responders?

Leslie Anderson, president and CEO of the Propane Gas Association of New England (PGANE), works to ensure her association members have relationships with emergency responders and that the responders are properly trained to handle propane-related emergencies.

“We want to train local fire departments so they are aware if they get calls,” Anderson says. “The propane industry does a really good job educating the consumers about if you smell gas to call, but we do a lot of training on the properties of propane and how to safely respond if there is a leak.”

Each year, PGANE conducts a three-day training at state fire academies in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The training sessions give first responders hands-on experience handling propane emergencies. PGANE members send their safety and compliance personnel that handle first responder emergency work, as well as their local fire department members, to attend and learn the steps involved in safely responding to propane-related emergencies.

AmeriGas and Dead River, both members of PGANE, have donated a bobtail to each of the training facilities. These trucks serve as training tools for attendees, which is important because, according to Anderson, one of the more common incidents in the Northeast is bobtail rollovers on snowy or icy roads.

“It’s really great if the fire department understands where all the valves are so they can make sure everything is secure and that they know how safe the containers are and how to call a recovery truck so the vehicle can be righted properly,” Anderson says.

Hosting training sessions and creating relationships with first responders ensures that each group has points of contact if incidents occur.

“A lot of times a propane company has technicians who are trained and know how to shut off a valve and secure a release where it could minimize impacts, or it could stop the release or make it less of a threat,” Anderson says. “By creating these relationships, we’ve seen incidents where they will immediately reach out to a member company that they’ve worked with – if they met at the fire school or that they’ve gone to training with.”

How to reach out to emergency response officials:

1. Get involved with fire chiefs in your area or state
⦁ Consider having a booth or giving a presentation about propane safety at their trade shows or events.

2. Contact local fire departments
⦁ Invite them to visit your site for a tour and to talk propane.

3. Bring a bobtail to a local fire department
⦁ Demonstrate how the truck works and pinpoint valve locations, in case there is ever an incident involving one of these vehicles.

If you are interested in hosting an event in your community for emergency response officials, but don’t know where to start, contact Leslie Anderson (, who can put you in touch with the PGANE emergency response committee.

About the Author:

Clara Richter was a managing editor at LP Gas magazine.

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