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.

“Difficult to Access Information”

Clark County faced several challenges in Hazmat and Fire Planning before. These challenges stemmed from the manual paper-based reporting and planning work streams.

  •  Planner had to locate chemical reports back at the office in a filing cabinet.
  •  Compliance officers had to call the State Fire Marshal’s Office to know if a hotel or chemical facility had a current permit.
  •  Planners spent hundreds of hours creating a target hazard book for hundreds of the sites which included preplanning of MSDS’s and sites drawing.
  •  CAD technicians spent many hours updating site location and chemical quantities in their Computer Aided Dispatch System to aid fire fighters during a response call.
  •  The Hazmat Responder had to depend on information that chemical site owners shared about chemical inventory onsite during the pressures of an emergency.

Online Access Improves Compliance Tracking, Inspections, and Pre-Planning

Transitioning to a real-time process for looking up reports and analyzing risks has significantly improved productivity in Site Compliance Tracking, Inspections, Emergency Planning, and Response.

  •  Fire Departments, Responders, and Hazmat teams can pull up real-time chemical quantities, first aid guides, and risks anytime, anywhere with a simple internet browser.
  •  Emergency Contacts are easy to find and track.
  •  Inspectors use the system to conduct their hotel inspections, a primary portion of Hazmat duties. Inspectors can immediately compare reported chemical quantities and inspected amounts and set up follow ups.
  •  Re-inspections are easier to do because inspectors can check whether an updated permit has been issued before travelling back onsite.
  •  Compliance Officers can pull up site permit status for each Las Vegas hotel and other chemical sites.

The system has helped to improve productivity for compliance, inspections and emergency planning. “Every one of the Las Vegas hotels is its own city. The database gives us point of contacts for our hotels as well as quantities and chemicals stored.” said Mr. Brenner. Worst Case scenarios are stored in the system to help with emergency response measures. It is also used to provide the local Air Force with reports on tracked sites like those storing ammonia, chlorine, and titanium in the area.

Indiana Achieve 100% reporting with Hazconnect

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