Water, Gas & Light in Albany
ALBANY, Ga. -- To make sure that local first responders don't have to be concerned with, as Deputy Emergency Management Agency Director Jim Vaught put it "using it or losing it," more than 30 such responders, Water, Gas & Light Commission officials and even a couple of Albany City Commissioners attended a seminar on natural gas emergencies and procedures Tuesday morning at WG&L's Lily Pond Road facilities.
Billy Donaldson with Douglas-based Harp & Associates delivered an hour-long program on safety measures and regulations that is a required compliance measure for utilities personnel and first responders.
"I'm sure most of you here have heard about the man in Cairo who burned to death while working on a pipeline a couple of years ago," Donaldson told the group. "I'd known him since he was a little boy, and I'm a grown man but that hit me hard. That -- making sure something like this doesn't happen to one of you -- is why we're here today."
A number of firefighters, police officers, gas department officials with WG&L, Vaught, Police Chief John Proctor and City Commissioners Christopher Pike and Tommie Postell were among those who attended the seminar.
"You can never get enough education," WG&L Gas Director Gary Whitfield said after the seminar. "For first responders and these type people, it is important that what they are required to do and what they are expected to do is reinforced regularly. They may go 50 years and nothing ever happens, then they wake up tomorrow and all hell breaks loose.
"They have to be prepared."
Vaught said first responders who work at stations close to U.S. Highway 19 were required to be at the seminar.
"There's a natural gas pipeline that runs along 19, so it's especially important that our personnel who work at stations near 19 get this type training on a regular basis," Vaught said. "The whole point is for this material to become rote memory. The more of these type sessions they attend, the more they might pick up. I learned new stuff today."
WG&L Assistant General Manager for Operations Keith Goodin said the federal government's Office of Pipeline Safety started requiring an annual safety seminar last year.
"Yes, it's mandatory now, but I also feel that it's important for our personnel to stay on top of this," Goodin said.