“This is a mock emergency. I repeat a mock emergency.”
Avista officials and local first responders discuss the scene.
The 911 call came in just after 8 a.m. A passerby noticed a backhoe in a ditch, a body on the ground nearby and a fire billowing from a possibly ruptured natural gas line.
Quick quiz: what do you do?
That’s the question Avista and Stevens County first responders were faced with last week during a staged or mock natural gas emergency in Arden, Wash. I was lucky enough to be on-site during the exercise to film the events as an unofficial observer. Check out the two-minute video of what happened above.
The fire department arrived on scene first to contain the fire and rescue the backhoe operator. Avista was also alerted of the incident by 911 operators and responded to the scene, running through the steps employees would take in the event of a real emergency, such as shutting of gas to the ruptured line and making repairs.
Avista facilitates exercises like this one for the worst-case scenario. We want to be prepared to ensure the safety of our customers, employees and the public. We work closely with local first responders so we are all prepared to take action when called upon.
Call 811 – the safe thing to do
More often than not, the cause of natural gas or electric line dig-ins is a third-party, which is why this scenario is so realistic. April is Safe Digging Month, but anytime is a good time to be safe about digging at your home or business. It’s not only the smart and safe thing to do to call 811 at least two working days before you plan to dig, it’s the law.
What’s a transmission pipeline?
Avista has around 125 miles of transmission pipeline in its system. This represents only about 1 percent of our total miles of pipeline. The pipeline used in this simulation is one of those few transmission lines. It’s about 74 miles long and runs between North Spokane and Kettle Falls. This particular line is 8 inches in diameter, but the designation is not based on size alone. A pipeline is designated transmission, when it exceeds 20 percent of its total yield strength (or capacity pressure.)