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The Central Berkshire Regional Emergency Planning Committee is made up of first responders from an array of area agencies.

Emergency Responders Seek Training For Pipeline Expansion

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Chairman Robert Czerwinski wrote a letter in support of the grant, which would give responders additional pipeline safety training.

LENOX, Mass. — With a proposed extension of a natural gas line from Richmond through to Franklin County, area emergency responders are eyeing additional training in case a safety issue arises.

The Central Berkshire Regional Emergency Planning Committee has written a letter in support for the county to receive up to $50,000 in federal funds for additional training.

Chairman Robert Czerwinski said the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission is applying for the funds, which will help responders know potential hazards and their roles and responsibilities should an incident occur.

"It has to go through a lot of regulations but during that process, BRPC approached me and asked if we'd support additional pipeline safety training," said Czerwinski, Pittsfield's fire chief.

The gas line expansion, proposed by Kinder Morgan, which owns the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., looks to break a new line off the existing one in Richmond and expand through Lenox, Pittsfield, Dalton, Hinsdale, Windsor and Peru on its way to Franklin County.

Czerwinski said the expansion "certainly" poses an additional threat to public safety and wrote a letter in support of the grant. The committee was first formed to prepared for hazardous materials safety issues and has previously met with Kinder Morgan to discuss how to handle any emergency regarding the pipeline.

The expansion will need to go through an array of public hearings and a regulatory process.

In other business, Thomas Grady from the Berkshire County sheriff's department said the radio frequency issues in North Adams have been solved with the reprogramming of more than 150 portable radios.

The Western Mass Homeland Security Council had purchases laptops, cables and software to reprogram radios and a team was arranged to oversee it. The material is kept at the Berkshire County Sheriff's Department office and is available to any county department needing assistance.

"It was a fabulous use of resources," Grady said "For me, it goes back to the relationships built in these rooms"

That isn't the only shared resources available at the sheriff's office for area agencies, he said, and encouraged the other agencies to reach out to the department if they need something. Czerwinski added that the Pittsfield Fire Department is using lighting for an upcoming training, which is being borrowed from the sheriff's office.

Tags: emergency committee,   emergency preparedness,   natural gas,   pipeline,   

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