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OVERVIEW Natural gas is a flammable hazardous material. A hazardous material exists

in only one of two conditions: controlled or uncontrolled. When controlled, natural gas is in the normal state. It makes life better and more comfortable; it is burned for cooking, heating, and countless industrial applications. When a natural gas release is in an uncontrolled position, damage can occur; it can explode, injure, and endanger the community. Recognizing early in an emer- gency that natural gas is in an uncontrolled condition is one of the first steps a responder must perform in order to handle the incident safely.

FIGURE 4.2A A gas stove releasing gas in a controlled condition.

FIGURE 4.2B An uncontrolled release or an emergency condition.

Another important element is that responders must have a system to man-

age any incident including a natural gas emergency. Responders’ skills in managing such a situation are no different from those controlling any haz- ardous material or hazardous waste emergency. Whether it is a leak, rupture, or broken valve, Incident Commanders should have a uniform response plan to assure safety. To be successful, you must have a system of decision-making guidelines. These should include command structure and field-tested tactical management principles that will be successful. A very effective and street- smart system used extensively around the United States is the Eight Step Process©



The Eight Step Process© was developed by Greg Noll, Mike Hildebrand, and

Jim Yvorra in the 1980s. The authors were all emergency responders for the Prince Georges County (Maryland) Fire Department hazardous materials response team. They felt that a method or “tool” was needed to help Incident Commanders successfully structure their decision-making when managing hazardous materials incidents. In 1988, the authors published Hazardous


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