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Westchester, Con Ed To Provide Hands-On Gas Emergency Training

Westchester County has a new gas leak emergency training facility. Local fire departments will now receive hands-on training for handling gas and transformer emergencies.

Westchester County Department of Emergency Services fire division staff worked with Con Edison to develop and build a gas leak simulator facility. County Executive George Latimer, standing outside with various valves, pipes and more that make up the simulator, says the so-called prop was financed by funds allocated to Con Ed from the New York state Public Service Commission.

“The prop uses compressed air to simulate the different leaks that can occur in the system,” says Latimer.

The prop can produce a live gas meter fire for training. The gas leak simulator has every type of gas-related emergency situation that could be found in Westchester, such as high and low pressure gas lines, appliance leaks and different types of valves, meters and other equipment. The facility is a simulated house with appliances, such as a stove, hot water heater, and boiler, as well as various forms of residential and commercial meters and gas lines. Again, Latimer.

“These are serious situations that could happen in the real world, and the simulator process helps  give people an opportunity to train, seeing what it might look like were it to happen in the real world,” Latimer says.

Westchester County Department of Emergency Services Commissioner John Cullen welcomes training outside the classroom.

“The previous training, however, was limited to classroom work. We would watch videos, listen to their lectures, drawings on diagrams on the board and using our imaginations. If you look around the buildings and equipment that you see in the drill yard, it physically replicates the types of fire and emergencies that firefighters will be responding to. But here was one large void in our training field, and that’s the Con Edison gas lab building that is now available to us,” Cullen says. “This training building and associated equipment will provide the best and the absolute most realistic conditions that our firefighters will be faced in the field. I am now more confident than ever that our firefighters will be able to safely mitigate gas emergencies and provide the best possible outcome for our residents.”

Con Edison Senior Vice President of Gas Operations Marc Huestis:

“This facility is really best-in-class training facility built by emergency responders for emergency responders,” Huestis says.

All 58 fire departments train at the Westchester County Department of Emergency Services facility. Luci Labriola-Cuffe is chief of fire training at the county’s Department of Emergency Services. She says Con Ed has put together a teaching curriculum which county personnel will co-teach. The course will be piloted with career fire academies currently in session, and then the county will invite fire departments in for training.

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