The City of New York has begun a public awareness campaign to urge residents to call 911 -and not just their utility – if they smell gas.
Previously, residents who smelled gas were told to call their gas utility or dial 311, the city’s information hotline. Now, any calls to 311 reporting gas will be transferred to the 911 emergency line, automatically triggering a fire department response.
Following the building explosion in March in East Harlem, the mayor issued an order that any calls placed to 311 reporting gas odors will be immediately transferred to the 911 emergency line, triggering a fire department response.
However, questions were raised at a City Council hearing on Wednesday as to whether the FDNY can handle a greater role in responding to gas leaks, as mandated by the mayor.
A spokesman for the mayor’s office affirmed that the FDNY was on board with the decision and have “analyzed what it would mean to their workload.” But curiously, the FDNY has yet to release an official statement endorsing the change in protocol and increased workload, and a department spokesman declined to comment on the mayor’s decision.
From the NYPD: If you suspect a natural gas leak
- Leave the area immediately and go to a safe location
- Do not try to locate the source of the leak
- Do not do anything that could cause a spark and ignite the gas:
- Do not use electrical devices, such as light switches, telephones, or garage door openers
- Do not use an open flame, matches or lighters
- Do not start vehicles parked in the area
- Do not try to shut off any natural gas valves
- From a safe location, call 911 to report a gas leak. Do not call your gas provider.
- Do not re-enter the building or return to the area until fire department or law enforcement personnel deem the area safe for re-entry
Signs of Natural Gas Leak
- “Rotten egg” smell
- Dead or discolored vegetation in an otherwise green area
- Dirt or dust blowing from a hole in the ground
- Bubbling in wet or flooded areas
- Blowing or hissing sound
- Flames, if a leak has ignited
- Gas in transmission pipelines does not have odorant added, so signs of a pipeline leak may include all of the above except the rotten egg odor