A new program is set to train first responders on all aspects of compressed natural gas (CNG) safety in Columbus, Ohio. Although the course is still in development, in general, lessons include education on safety regarding CNG stations and vehicles while responding to an emergency.
The State of Ohio Fire Marshall’s office is the official first responder trainer for the Fire Departments in the State of Ohio. The program may recruit industry leaders in CNG technology, and other emergency management agencies from different states, to help train.
The City of Columbus Fleet played a significant role in getting the program going. Fleet Operations Manager Bill Burns, a program organizer, said “During the construction of our first CNG station in 2011-2012, it became apparent that since CNG fueling was new to this part of the country, there wasn’t a very good understanding of all things CNG… I was concerned that without good training for construction and fire inspectors that future CNG station construction projects could present potential problems down the road that could lead to safety-related incidents.” Burns said fleet technicians have received training and many are certified tank inspectors. The Fleet Management Division has already sponsored two classes for construction workers and fire and safety inspectors. This step will focus on emergency responders.
The Fleet Management Division serves as the training center. Program participants can obtain hands-on experience using the City’s CNG station and its 45 CNG vehicles during training. The City is in the process of construction two more CNG stations, which Burns said will be beneficial to trainees.
“Having the ability to train first responders during the construction phase of our CNG station provides an added benefit as they will acquire a better understanding of the underground infrastructure as it relates to piping, fueling islands, and electrical components,” Burns said.
The program hasn’t had its official first meeting yet but is planned to become a regular training requirement for State-wide first responders.
The City of Columbus Fleet Management Division and the State of Ohio Fire Marshall’s office are forming a steering committee that will establish parameters for the program. The committee will include Columbus Division of Fire, Clean Fuels Ohio, and possibly other CNG consultants, Burns said.
By Jack Chavdarian