Natural gas safety basics

Firefighters, police and EMTs are typically first on the scene in an emergency and face the greatest risk from natural gas leaks and fires. Understanding the properties of natural gas can help you respond more effectively to a variety of incidents.

  • Natural gas is lighter than air, and will move laterally or migrate upward when underground or in enclosed spaces.
  • Natural gas has an explosive (flammable) concentration range between about 5% and 15% gas to air. At concentrations below 5% or above 15%, natural gas will not burn.
  • Gas can accumulate in storm drains, construction trenches, buildings and other utility lines. As gas concentrations rise or fall, they can pass through the explosive range.
  • A lit cigarette is enough to ignite natural gas, and even the smallest electrical spark has been known to cause an explosion.

The guidance on this website is designed to supplement, not replace, your department’s standard operating procedures (SOPs).