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NIOSH report on Prince George's County shopping center natural gas explosion. Cites SOGs, RIT and staffing. Fireground audio & explosion video.

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NIOSH has issued its report in the May 7, 2009 explosion at the Penn Mar Shopping Center in Prince George’s County, Maryland that left eight firefighters and a gas company employee injured. The blast, fueled by natural gas, was captured on a camera mounted on the dash of one of the rigs parked near Side A of the structure.

Here is an excerpt from the reports findings:

NIOSH investigators concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should

  • ensure that standard operating guidelines for natural gas leaks are understood and followed
  • contact utility companies (natural gas and electric) immediately to cut external supply/power to structures when gas leaks are suspected
  • ensure gas monitoring equipment is adequately maintained and fire fighters are routinely trained on proper use
  • ensure ventilation techniques are conducted after ignition sources are mitigated
  • ensure that rapid intervention teams are staged at the onset of an incident
  • ensure that collapse/explosion control zones are established when dealing with a potential explosion hazard

Although there is no evidence that the following recommendations would have prevented these injuries, they are being provided as a reminder of good safety practices.

  • provide manual personal alert safety system (PASS) or tracking devices to locate potentially missing fire fighters when SCBA are not utilized
  • ensure standard operating guidelines for communications are understood by dispatch
  • ensure adequate staffing for emergency medical services and rapid intervention teams (RITs)
  • ensure training is evaluated for rank and skill levels across the combination department personnel

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