Albany, NY – A state investigation of a deadly explosion in Queens last year found that Consolidated Edison and the New York Fire Department need to better coordinate the way they investigate gas leaks.
An 80-year-old gas main cracked in November, filling a nearby home with gas that exploded and killed 69-year-old Kunta Oza.
Firefighters arrived before the blast, called by neighborhood residents who reported smelling gas. But they left when Con Ed mechanics told them they had the situation under control.
Shortly afterward, the explosion ripped through Oza’s two-family house.
The state Public Service Commission said Wednesday Con Ed followed proper safety practices but also recommended changes, including better coordination with the Fire Department at the scenes of gas leaks.
Con Ed said in a prepared statement it has made a series of changes in its responses to gas leaks, including:
_ Evacuating buildings when gas levels in the air cannot be lowered below 0.5 percent.
_ Asking fire department and other agencies to remain on the scene to assist for as long as needed to protect the safety of customers, employees and other responders, as well as property.
_ Dispatching more Con Ed workers when gas readings that cannot be quickly eliminated or reduced are found in multiple structures.
Additionally, the fire department is adding combustible gas detectors that can measure natural gas concentrations to the regular complement of equipment firefighters carry, said department spokesman Jim Long.
All fire stations in the city are expected to be equipped with the detectors by July, Long said.