U of A Hosts Natural Gas Tabletop Exercise With Emergency Responders

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A natural gas tabletop exercise performed earlier this month brought together multiple University of Arkansas departments and emergency personnel to test and evaluate safety procedures in the event of a natural gas emergency. The exercise was part of ongoing campus safety outreach programs.

Facilities Management, along with representatives from University Housing, Parking and Transit, UAPD, Athletics, University Relations, Fayetteville Fire Department, Central EMS, and the Washington County Sheriff's Office, met to play out the process for responding to a natural gas incident on campus.

Scott Turley, executive director for campus utilities, emphasized the importance of collaboration between the university and city of Fayetteville officials during safety preparedness exercises.

"We have a great deal of confidence in our University team," he said. "We also share a strong partnership with the city of Fayetteville's fire and emergency response professionals and our other community partners. But we also know we can always get better, and these exercises help us identify where we can improve."

Participants were given the hypothetical scenario that an excavator installing a light pole hit a gas line in front of Adohi Hall causing a leak, and they were asked to respond as if it were a real emergency. Personnel were asked to make decisions and react by establishing secure perimeters, notifying campus, evacuating the dorms and nearby buildings, and making the area safe. After completing the exercise, a discussion was held to determine if any adjustments should be made to better respond to a real event and protect the campus community. 

"We have all heard the sports adage 'you play like you practice.' Emergency preparedness is no different. We do these exercises so that should a real emergency occur, we have already thought through our response and practiced our procedures," said Turley.

Tabletop exercises are performed every other year as part of the pipeline safety outreach program. The U of A and Facilities Management would like to thank those that participated for their continued support.

About the Pipeline

While natural gas pipelines are usually very safe, individuals on or near campus should be aware of how to recognize a natural gas leak and what to do in the case of a pipeline emergency.

The easiest way to identify a gas leak is by smell. The U of A natural gas line along with the Black Hills distribution lines have been odorized with a chemical that smells like rotten eggs to help identify leaks. Other signs of potential leaks include a hissing or roaring noise, large sections of dead vegetation, dirt blowing in the air, or fire coming from the ground. If you detect a potential leak, leave the area, and tell those around you to leave. Once you are a safe distance away from the potential gas leak, call 911.

For more information about the pipeline, visit pipelinesafety.uark.edu.



Breanna Lacy, communications coordinator
Facilities Management
479-575-6044, bllacy@uark.edu


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