Information from our Pipeline Emergencies Training Grant
It took us several years from the time we conceived the idea of training our Region’s first responders with the best available “Pipeline Emergencies Training” to obtain the grant and complete all the training. We were awarded a PHMSA Technical Assistance Grant (US – Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) Technical Assistance Grant (TAG)
DTPH56-13-G-PHPT03) during the fall of 2013. In the spring of 2014 through early winter of 2015, we conducted 12 trainings in our Region.
One highlight of the training was local operators investing in the project through donations for lunches and staff time to participate along with our first responders. Participating operators are noted below.
UGI and Williams paid local vendors directly for lunch catering in Susquehanna, Tioga and Wyoming Counties. Crestwood’s grant of $500 was applied to catering expenses in Bradford and Sullivan Counties. Access Midstream’s grant of $3,600 was applied to catering expenses in Bradford, Sullivan and Susquehanna Counties. We added our funds to the grant money remaining from the Access Midstream grant, and had a drawing of volunteer fire companies/departments that participated in Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Wyoming Counties. $500 mini-grants were awarded to Wilmot VFD (Bradford), Endless Winds VFC (Sullivan), Springville VFD (Susquehanna) and FWM VFD (Wyoming).
What We Accomplished
“Pipeline Emergencies Training” was provided in all five counties. Due to a spring referral from the Tioga County training, we added an 11th training for state agencies, (DCNR, DEP & PUC). At the request of Tioga County, we successfully applied for a grant extension and provided a third training date in Tioga County, February, 2015 resulting in a total of 12 trainings during the grant project. Full day trainings with a contracted instructor from the National Association of State Fire Marshalls provided the training at each location.
We had a very successful experience with two of our sponsoring operators, namely, Access Midstream and UGI Energy Partners LLC. These two operators participated fully in nine out of 12 training sessions. The participation was very valuable. They brought actual knowledge of company procedures, maps, 811 information, pipeline awareness information, gas meters for demonstration and pipeline marker props. Access Midstream and UGI employees obtained the certification. Both want to utilize the Pipeline Emergencies training curriculum into their direct pipeline emergencies training with first responders. UGI is considering developing such a program for every 2-3 years. UGI pipeline safety personnel were so impressed with the quality of the training that they are considering becoming certified to instruct as part of their training program.
Access Midstream and UGI were very positive regarding the training curriculum and experience.
We surveyed participants regarding the training sessions.
Participation (note some participants may meet more than one category)
Respondents were asked to rate the knowledge gained from the Pipeline Emergencies Training. The rating system was 5 meaning a great deal and 1 meaning none. As noted, most participants gained a significant amount of knowledge.
Each session concluded with at least three scenarios where the participants needed to work through a pipeline emergency exercise utilizing newly gained skills. The experience differed in each county.
During a Bradford County training, Access Midstream sent five pipeline safety field staff and two pipeline awareness staff to participate. During the scenarios segment, this provided an opportunity for each group to have a representative from Access Midstream participate with them. This provided a better opportunity for communication and understanding each other’s roles. Access Midstream’s participation really enhanced the quality of training at the session.
During a Sullivan County training, first responders enjoyed working through the scenarios so much that they requested to work through more. Several more scenarios were used until the participants felt confident of how to apply their new skills.
During a Tioga County training, the dialogue was so fluent on their newly acquired skills that one participant asked a question and all the participants chimed in with their insights as how to react, what to consider, what plan of action to take. At the end of the discussion, the instructor asked is there anything else anyone would care to share, any further actions to take? Everyone was in agreement that the course of action had been sufficiently determined. The instructor stated, “Congratulations you have not only completed your first scenario, but you have designed it!”
During a Wyoming County training, first responders learned that UGI Energy Services, had in fact odorized a gathering line within their fire company’s jurisdiction. All other gathering lines lack odorant within their jurisdiction. They were greatly surprised as the previous winter they had a call about residents noticing a gas odor and they didn’t understand why the 9-1-1 call would have such a description since they had the understanding gathering lines were not odorized.
There were many informative moments and ahHAs that occurred at every training session. Most surveys were positive about the training, noting at minimum they would recommend the training and that it was a worthwhile day.
Pipeline Emergencies Training was not being consistently provided in our area either by operators or the state training agency. It was our desire to bring excellent training into our Region so first responders would be prepared to understand the variety of infrastructure, the do’s and don’ts and how to effectively respond for their safety and that of the public. Our survey’s indicated that not only was this training needed here as over 60% of responders lacked prior training but also knowledge gained rated 4 out of 5 (great deal). We had varying results as noted above county to county regarding the number of fire service involved in training, but beyond that we trained many other first responders as well. We wanted this training to be the gift that kept on giving. We supplied every participating station with a training kit and manual to keep in one emergency vehicle. It is our desire that each station will use these resources during in-house training sessions in years to come.
These are the entities that participated in the Pipeline Emergencies Training.
Groups from Tioga, Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna, and Wyoming counties.