Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro recently announced that Con Edison and the National Grid had donated $150,000 to the Department. One hundred thousand dollars will go toward the purchase of 86 new portable gas detectors, as part of the Department’s plan to provide each of its 198 fire stations with a device. The gas detectors will be a most welcome addition for a fire department serving a city rocked by two devastating gas explosions in the last two years.
Those two explosions, the first in East Harlem and the latter one in the East Village, destroyed three buildings and took ten lives. They also made a significant impact on the City’s residents: FDNY got 18,000 more gas/odor emergency calls in 2014 than it received in 2013, and within this past year has seen another 68 percent increase.
The power of suggestion may explain much of that increase, but so does the weakness of the gas line network running under New York City. Con Ed, which has much to lose from any more fatal gas explosions, has thousands of miles of deferred maintenance to perform on its pipes. Other gas providers for the greater New York area need to replace pipe as well, but Con Ed is by far the worst offender.
According to USA Today, Con Ed suffers an average of 456 hazardous gas leaks per thousand miles of pipe. That’s way above the national average of 35 leaks. Fifty-two percent of Con Ed’s pipes were laid prior to 1970, and 50.6 percent are bare metal pipes, subject to corrosion and breakage.
As attorneys for injured firefighters, we appreciate Con Ed’s generosity and hope that the gas detectors help prevent future catastrophes. The utility is also working to replace 65 miles of pipe in 2015 and 70 miles in 2016. But at that rate, it will take 30 years to replace all of the obsolete pipes in the system. We hope there are no tragedies in the interim.
If you have been the victim of a gas explosion, the injury attorneys at Barasch & McGarry, P.C. can evaluate your case and advise you on the best way to proceed. To schedule a free consultation, call [ln::phone] or contact our NYC office online.