Albert B Beardsley, Fire Chief
47 Central Street
Georgetown, MA 01833
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Georgetown Fire Department Responds to Serious Gas Leak
GEORGETOWN — Chief Albert B Beardsley reports that the Georgetown Fire Department yesterday responded to a serious natural gas leak at an apartment complex in town.
Firefighters responded to Building 1 of the Longview Apartments at 10:52 a.m. Monday. Upon arrival, Chief Beardsley noted a strong odor of natural gas additive outside the building, and he could hear a loud hissing sound coming from the building’s natural gas meter manifold.
Building maintenance crews were also on scene, attempting to dig out the snow that had partially covered the meter.
Firefighters also noted a strong odor of gas inside the first floor and ordered a complete building evacuation.
“Thankfully, due to the time of day, a building that would normally contain 120 or more people only had a few dozen residents home at the time,” Chief Beardsley said. “We were able to work with our neighboring fire departments to conduct an orderly evacuation, while crews ventilated the building.”
Noting the dangerousness of the situation, Chief Beardsley also requested mutual aid in the form of a ladder truck from Byfield Fire and an engine from Rowley. (The two neighboring fire departments recently signed a mutual aid agreement with Georgetown for fire responses at this apartment complex.) Groveland Fire and West Newbury Fire also responded to Georgetown for station coverage.
National Grid Gas crews arrived within 30 minutes and had the gas shut off to the building within ten minutes of their arrival.
An investigation into the cause reveled a build-up of water run-off from melting snow weighed down on the gas meter manifold causing it to snap under the surface of the dirt.
By 11:40 am firefighters had re-checked the gas vapor levels in the building, and residents were allowed to return.
Chief Beardsley noted the maintenance crews at Longview have done a good job in keeping the snow pack clear of the gas meters but there’s little that can be done to predict something like this from occurring. As a precautionary measure, the Longview maintenance crews and National Grid gas crews checked the remaining buildings for the safety of the gas meters. The fire department remained on scene until just before noontime.
Chief Beardsley reminds all home and business owners to be extra careful of where snow is piled and to avoid plowing snow into the gas and electric services.
“Additionally, everyone needs to be careful about snow pack against side-mounted power vents for gas and oil burners,” Chief Beardsley said. “The power vent systems need to ‘breathe’ and therefore need clearance around the opening by six feet or greater. Otherwise, deadly carbon monoxide gases can back up into the building making people very sick or possibly worse. With the type of winter we’ve seen this year the extreme cold and snow conditions have created a wide variety of challenges to everyone and keeping your home and business safe is everyone’s number one priority.”