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New York - By Daniel P Sheridan Battalion Chief FDNY - Google the words “natural gas explosion” and you get well over 2.2 million hits – that’s because gas explosions are occurring with disturbing regularity in this country. The question feared, is not if a gas explosion but when?
Residents and Commercial premises require CO and Fire detectors. So, why aren’t we installing a gas safety system with leak detectors? Why aren’t engineers including it their designs for homes, apartments or commercial spaces?
Last week in my own Development, we dodged a potentially huge catastrophe when my neighbor’s houses developed a gas leak. It resulted in a fire, burning a good portion of the house. It was 3rd recent gas leak detected in my area this Fall. It could have been much worse, thankful everyone got out alive.
House Explosion in Putnam County Injures Young Pregnant Mother, Photo Philipstown.info
These days more people are converting to a cheaper alternative way to heat their home, either Propane or Natural Gas. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is seeing a 20% increase per year in oil to gas conversion. It is true Natural or Propane Gas Systems are a safe and clean fuel source, but it still remains a volatile substance, especially if a leak occurs in a premise and fills the space to an explosive level, the results can be catastrophic. Gas leak reports are up 68% per a recent Daily News article December 17, 2014. According to US Fire Departments, gas structure fires were the most common incident type, accounting for 69% of the fires. 99% of all gas home fire resulted in deaths. An ignition source can be anything from a pilot light to a static charge.
USA Today, January 16, 2014, “As the use of natural gas booms in the United States, scientists are testing for pipeline leaks. They found more than 5,800 leaks under the streets of Washington, D.C., some potentially explosive”. These leaks can seep into basements of homes or buildings and be deadly.
McDonald Bill, July, 2014, Massachusetts thinks enough of the problem to put into law requiring Gas Companies to address the situation, repair the leaks to reduce the risk of an explosion and improve their aging infrastructure. It unveiled the first-ever gas leak map showing the precise location of more than 300 leaks in Medford, MA. The coalition is revealing a new city or town each month, showing how many hundreds, in some cases thousands, of gas leaks exist in each city.
The Flowtech Safety System’s solution automatically detects dangerous levels of Gas or LPG in a premise. Once a rise of 1% of gas is detected, a signal is sent to a control panel which activates the internal gas shut-off valve. This system cuts off the source of the danger which can save lives, prevents illnesses from CO poisoning and alerts you of this dangerous situation. This system helps to reduce fires, injuries and deaths while making it saver for 1st emergency responders to enter a premise.
The Flowtech System also offers CO Detectors that can be integrated into their system. Their CO Detectors are UL2075 and UL2034 approved for Visual and Audible Alarms but adhere to a higher European System Standard, 50294 that activity when it detects 30PPM over 120 minutes. CO is measured in PPM, that is how many particulates of CO per Million in any given area. At 35 PPM, you start to become ill, get a headache and experience dizziness.
In my job as a FDNY Battalion Chief, I have responded numerous times to assist our local utility company to gain entry into basements of a premise that are affected by a gas leak in the street. Many of those times we have found gas leak levels over 2%. The danger is when the gas accumulates in basement areas and people are unaware of the situation or at night when they are sleeping. Another issue exists if the odorant (Mercaptin) gets washed out, now you have an odorless and colorless gas building up in a premise or leaking in from the street. Gas Safety Systems should be mandatory and be installed by license technicians with annual system checks to insure everyone’s safety.