Emergency & Public Officials: What to expect from operator public awareness programs

Emergency responders and public officials are vital to the communities they serve, and knowing how to recognize and respond to a pipeline emergency is critical.

Whether you are a firefighter, member of law enforcement, 911 dispatcher, EMT, emergency manager, city, county or Tribal leader, or work in a public works or planning and zoning department, you have a vital role in pipeline safety.

Materials or information received from pipeline operators in or near your communities may differ depending on your role, but could include:

  • How to recognize a pipeline emergency
  • How to respond in a pipeline emergency and protect those who live or work near the pipeline
  • How to contact the operator
  • How to determine the product(s) in a pipeline and potential hazards associated with the product(s)
  • Information on 811, the national call before you dig service, and the importance of preventing damage to pipelines
  • How to safely excavate/dig or conduct road maintenance
  • How to safely develop land (or oversee safe development of land) near pipelines
  • Information on the operator’s emergency response plan or planned emergency response exercises (tabletop or deployment)
  • How to access basic information on pipelines in or near your community through the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS). (Note: Local, state, and federal elected officials can also apply for access to the Pipeline Information Management Mapping Application, available through NPMS, which provides a greater level of detail on pipelines under federal DOT jurisdiction.)

Pipeline operators are required by federal law to provide information to emergency responders a minimum of once each year and have separate requirements to liaise with emergency responders as frequently as needed. Their goal is to facilitate mutual understanding and cooperation and to develop relationships before they may be needed during a pipeline emergency.

Public officials may receive information from pipeline operators less frequently. Although many operators reach out annually, the baseline contact requirement is once every two calendar years (not to exceed 27 months).