Smalley Foundation offers training in Sweetwater

To any first responders in and around Nolan County, the Smalley Foundation will host a gas pipeline training awareness class will take place at the Sweetwater Fire Department. The class will be held in the training room on three separate nights including Tuesday, July 31, Wednesday, August 1, and Thursday, August 2, at 6 p.m. each evening.The mission of the Smalley Foundation is to increase safety and awareness for those who live, work and play near the nation’s oil and gas sites and pipelines through empowering the general public, training first-responders and partnering with industry.On Aug. 24, 1996 in Kemp, Texas, a liquid butane pipeline broke and exploded near a subdivision in this northeast Texas town, killing two teenagers who inadvertently triggered the blast with an ignition spark from their truck.One home was destroyed in the explosion and about 50 others were evacuated in the rural neighborhood while firefighters allowed the underground pipeline to burn. The leak was noticed by a man in the neighborhood who sent his daughter, Danielle Smalley, and her friend, Jason Stone, to report it. The teenagers triggered the blast with an ignition spark from their truck as they were driving away, said Kaufman County Sheriff Robert Harris.Ms. Smalley and Mr. Stone, both 17, were killed. There were no other injuries. Flames reached dozens of feet high and a column of black smoke could be seen for miles as firefighters from six communities were called in. “While I was sitting there, it ignited,” said resident Rick Brugette. “The flames came almost up to the front door of my house. ... It was probably about 150 degrees on my porch.”Authorities said fuel to the line had been cut off by 6 p.m., but residual fuel continued to burn throughout the evening.The 8-inch pipeline, stretching from Medford, Okla., to Mont Belvieu, Texas, is operated by Koch Industries.A woman who answered the telephone at the nearby Scurry Volunteer Fire Department said the blast occurred near a subdivision called Beautiful Acres close to the small, unincorporated community of Lively. The town is about 10 miles west of Kemp, which has a population of about 1,280. Kemp is 42 miles southeast of Dallas.One major initiative of The Foundation is to provide training to first responders in rural areas who could respond to a pipeline emergency, primarily volunteer fire departments, emergency medical technicians, and local law enforcement officials. Often, these groups haven’t been trained how to safely and appropriately respond to a pipeline related emergency.The class is open to any first responder in and around Nolan County, but anyone that would like to attend is welcome,” said Sweetwater Fire Chief Grant Madden. “There are numerous pipelines in Nolan County that we have had issues with in the past and I am sure that things like this will continue. With the gas and oil boom headed back our direction, I think this would be a great refresher for those of us that have had this type of information in the past and a good beginning for anyone new to the emergency responder role.”The class is free and all that organizers ask is that those planning to participate let them know how many will be attending so they can prepare accordingly.Call the Sweetwater Fire Department to RSVP at (325) 235-4304.