You may have not heard about Clark County, Nevada. But you probably have visited its most famous city - Las Vegas – and maybe some its sister cities like North Las Vegas, Boulder, Henderson, and Mosquite. These cities have been growing rapidly over the last several years. This means that emergency planners in Clark County, NV have had to face an even greater number of factors when assessing risks in these rapidly changing communities.
One of the several risks that Fire authorities plan for are response scenarios in case of accidental chemical releases or spills at one of the County’s chemical storage facilities. Businesses are required to submit chemical reports to assist the planning effort each year. Businesses do this to meet Hazmat Permitting requirements from the State Fire Marshal’s office and EPA regulations carried out by the State Emergency Response Commission. These reports were traditionally mailed from businesses to the State and Counties. The Clark County Fire Department uses this information to conduct site inspections, develop plans, exercise response scenarios, and inform them during an actual emergency. But, the on the ground reality was very different.
Wading through reams of paper reports each made it very difficult for the small Emergency Planning teams to update their assessments, much less create proactive pre-plans for each site storing hazardous chemicals. One the most basic issues was that “there was no easy way we could access information.” said Mr. Richard Brenner, Hazardous Materials Coordinator.
In 2007, Clark County adopted use of a state system called Hazconnect to immediately access online chemical inventory reports and emergency planning information and collaborate with other planners and responders to assess risks. “It was very limited before but now we now have easy access to the data. We used to have to go to the chemical sites or call the State Fire Marshal’s office to see if the site had a compliant Fire Marshal and SERC Permit. Now with Hazconnect we are able to see the permit status by pulling it up on a tablet. It’s been a real time saver,“ said Mr. Brenner.