Michigan propane association develops emergency response program

February 24, 2009 By    

The Michigan Propane Gas Association (MPGA) has developed a program designed to provide quicker response times to emergency propane-related incidents. Working jointly with propane dealers in Michigan, the MPGA developed the Propane Emergency Response Network (PERN). As part of the program, long-time Blackmer distributor Industrial Propane Service (IPS), in conjunction with the MPGA and a PERN committee, built the first of five planned emergency-response trailers to support the LPG market in Michigan.

Robert Vandemark, owner of IPS, spearheaded the effort to bring PERN into reality. He introduced the idea several years ago when he recognized that more had to be done to supplement the current fire training that is offered to first-responders, many of whom did not have the appropriate training to handle major propane emergencies. To aid these first-responders, IPS built a complete emergency-response trailer that is fully equipped with the portable pumps, compressors, power units, hoses and other accessories that are typically needed for handling propane-related responses. Though Vandemark recently retired and sold his interest in IPS – which was founded by his father – to his three children, Rob Vandemark, Kim Godlewski and Jeff Vandemark, he has remained committed to working with MPGA to build the PERN program.

The emergency-response trailers will be located in five different fire districts within Michigan. Each district will be made up of regionalized propane teams, and each team will have diverse, talented and trained volunteers to specifically handle propane emergencies. Working with police and fire departments in the state, PERN will help reduce the response time to any propane-related incident.

In addition to the added level of safety these emergency-response trailers and equipment will provide, MPGA is also developing specific training and education programs to further train fire and police personnel in the safe use of the emergency equipment.

PERN will be supported by a specific phone number that will be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The number service will have the names and contact numbers of each team’s deployment officer on duty. In the event of a propane emergency, first-responders to the incident will call the emergency number. The monitor network will then select the area team to handle the emergency and in turn contact that team’s deployment officer, who will respond to the first-responder at the incident site and then evaluate the site’s emergency-response needs. A PERN team would be on site within one hour, or less, of the initial call.

Blackmer is an equipment provider for the program and has committed to offering pump and compressor equipment training at schools organized and conducted by MPGA, said Glenn Webb, Blackmer senior product specialist, compressors.

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