The FDNY will now respond to all reports of gas leaks made to the city. The change was made after a fatal explosion in East Harlem. Credit: Getty Images
The FDNY will now respond whenever gas leaks are reported to the city, according to changes made by Mayor Bill de Blasio in response to the East Harlem explosion that destroyed two buildings and killed eight people in March.
As part of the change, made official with a working group report released on Wednesday, gas leak reports will be routed through the 911 system.
The move is intended to improve response times. On the morning of the March 13 explosion, a team from Con Edison arrived on scene 20 minutes after the the first -- and only -- gas leak report.
Con Ed crews take an average 22 minutes to respond to reported gas leaks. The FDNY responds to non-emergency calls, including gas leaks, in about 8 minutes.
Previously, residents were encouraged to report the smell of gas to utilities or 311. The FDNY would be notified when the leak met certain requirements, like if more than one call was received.
Con Ed, along with National Grid, coordinated with the city on the change. Together, the companies manage more than 6,300 miles of gas mains and service lines in the city.
During an oversight hearing on infrastructure at City Council on Wednesday, officials discussed the change, though they had not read the report.
"Getting there that much quicker can help," said Edward Foppiano, senior vice president of gas operations at Con Ed, in response to a question about the change. "Minutes count," he added.
Though Council members Dan Garodnick and Donovan Richards worried about whether the FDNY workforce could handle the change, a de Blasio spokesman said the department doesn't anticipate any staffing concerns.