It’s 11:50 pm and you get a knock on the door. The fire department is evacuating the surrounding neighborhood due to a gas leak. Police officers are blocking off traffic. The scene of a gas leak can be chaotic with many moving parts as our crews coordinate with public safety agencies to work through the logistics of clearing out an area and fixing the leak.
Timeliness and coordination are key to keeping everyone safe. That’s where SDG&E’s Gas Emergency Response Vehicles (GERV) shine. For over a year now, we have deployed dedicated Gas Emergency Crews and GERV’s to the scene of gas leaks and line breaks, optimizing response and repair times.
Fire crews are typically first on scene and are standing by with their fire hoses until the Emergency Gas Crews arrive.
Coordination is Key
Aside from the Gas Emergency Response Vehicles, at the center of it all is the Gas Command Vehicle. This vehicle acts as a mobile command center, where all resources and personnel at the scene of a large-scale incident are coordinated.
Coordination is essential when there may be more than one GERV on scene and other first responders. The Gas Command Vehicle not only serves crews but also responding agencies such as the fire department when they arrive to get briefed on the plan of action. Once crews check in, the supervisor sends them to where they need to go.
“You need a place to set up your game plan, and that’s what the mobile command center does. It provides a spot for me to work, lights for night work and signals to first responders know where to go to for questions,” said Field Operations Supervisor Casey Gallagher.
He said the vehicles and highly trained crew make his job run smoother during emergencies. “It’s exciting, and a good team to work alongside. When I first respond to an emergency and arrive onsite, it’s very chaotic and loud at first. First and foremost, my job is to assess, ensure the area is safe, coordinate with crews and fire department,” he said.
Outfitted with the Necessary Tools
Our dedicated Emergency Gas Response Vehicles and Gas Command Vehicles are outfitted with all the necessary equipment for the emergency crews to respond to all types of leaks, including jackhammers clay diggers and first aid kits. Crews can also print and display maps they need on the spot for those working the emergency. This level of preparedness helps to cut response time dramatically. And it’s paying off.
Time is of the essence when our crews respond to any scene, and they have some impressive times in the books. Since implementing the program, the crew has responded to well over 1,400 incidences with the fastest response time logged at eight minutes.
To avoid causing a gas leak, contractors and those who hire them for excavation work are urged to call 811 or submit a DigAlert request at at least two business days in advance. SDG&E will mark the location of the buried utility lines free of charge.
Please notify us immediately if you damage a pipeline at 1-800-411-7343 as even a slight gouge, scrape or dent could impair pipeline function or lead to a leak.