RAILROAD COMMISSION: PROTECT PROPANE TANKS FROM WILDFIRES

04/15/2011

AUSTIN––With wildfires threatening many areas of Texas, the Railroad Commission—the state agency in charge of propane safety—wants Texans whose homes or businesses are fueled by propane gas to know what to do in the event of one of these fast-moving fires.

“Wildfires are impacting many regions of our state, particularly West Texas, and the potential for other regions to be impacted by wildfires is high,” said Railroad Commission Chairman Elizabeth Ames Jones. “For those who have propane tanks, we urge you to be prepared to protect your family and property.”

Commissioner David Porter said, “If you have time to do so safely before evacuating, one of the most important steps to take is to turn off the shut off valve at your propane container if your house is fueled by propane. Also have your propane system inspected for leaks before turning it back on after an emergency.”

Below are other steps to take before, during and after a wildfire:

  • Before A Wildfire: Make sure any small propane cylinders are stored outdoors, and check the area around your main propane fuel tank. Clean and clear out vegetation or other items that can burn around the tank. Mow close to the ground, and cut back all growth around tank supports. Trim overhanging trees or shrubs.

    Your propane supplier can help by showing you where your service line is buried and how to operate your propane system’s safety features. Have your supplier show you and your family how to turn off the gas at the tank.

    Your propane supplier can also put a reflective Railroad Commission tank locator decal on or next to your electric meter or service box. The bright orange decal helps emergency responders find your tank, even if it’s underground or dark outside.

    Finally, post emergency phone numbers in an agreed location and make sure all family members know your community's warning signals and how to tune into your area’s Emergency Broadcast Network.

  • During a Wildfire: If it is safe to do so, disconnect small propane cylinders from grills or other appliances and move them away from any structures. Shut the cylinders’ service valves by turning them all the way clockwise. Also, turn off the shut off valve at a propane container if your house is fueled by propane. In the event of an evacuation, follow emergency workers’ instructions.

  • After a Wildfire: Propane storage containers exposed to fire need to be inspected and, if necessary, tested and repaired after an emergency. Contact a licensed propane supplier to inspect the container and system and ensure it is safe for use. Always use caution when re-entering buildings following an evacuation. If you smell gas, do not operate electrical switches, appliances or telephones. These actions could ignite propane vapor. Exit the building quickly and carefully. Go to a neighbor’s phone or use a cell phone outside to call emergency personnel or your propane supplier for help. 

For more tips to safeguard your propane-fueled home visit http://altenergy.rrc.state.tx.us or call the Railroad Commission’s Alternative Fuels Division at (800) 64-CLEAR.