PSE&G, Montclair First Responders Conduct Gas Emergency Response Exercise

Call 811 before you dig to prevent gas emergencies; Learn more about gas safety.


(Montclair, N.J. – May 6, 2024) PSE&G is committed to maintaining a safe gas distribution system. As part of our commitment, the utility today partnered with first responders from Montclair in a safety exercise that simulated a gas emergency.

The four-hour exercise allowed PSE&G and local safety professionals to practice keeping the public safe in the event of a damaged underground gas line. The exercise, near the Essex Pool and Ice Rink parking lots, also provided the opportunity to test incident command and evacuation procedures. 

“Our utmost priority is safeguarding our communities, our customers and our employees,” said Brian Clark, PSE&G’s vice president of Gas Operations. “This drill offers a chance to rehearse, verify and enhance our gas emergency response, ensuring seamless coordination beyond simulated scenarios.”

Clark continued, “Hands-on training is incredibly valuable. Our customers trust that we’re keeping our gas systems safe and secure, and this exercise helps prepare us for emergencies. It lets us get to know our first-responder partners in advance, which improves communication and coordination during actual emergencies.” 

"PSE&G's commitment to safety and preparedness is evident through exercises like today’s gas leak simulation,” said John Grapes, Montclair Fire Chief. “These drills aren't just about practice;

they're about safeguarding our communities and responders. By coordinating with local agencies and conducting realistic scenarios, we enhance our readiness for worst-case situations.”
In 2023, PSE&G responded to 853 calls concerning excavation damages (736 gas and 117 electric). The utility responds to 99.9 percent of gas emergency calls within one hour. Many of these leaks are avoidable with a simple call to 811 to request a free markout of underground pipes and cables before digging. Digging without knowledge of the location of underground utilities can result in: serious injuries, service disruptions and costly repairs.

Protocols for responding to a gas leak are different from responding to a fire. For example, the evacuation distance is further for a gas emergency, turning off power may not be possible, and automatic generators or solar panels can be potential sources of ignition.

Clark also thanked all participants, including: PSE&G, Montclair Police Department, Montclair Emergency Medical Services, New Jersey Natural Gas, South Jersey Industries, Con Edison, New Jersey Division of Fire Safety, and New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.

This event marked PSE&G’s first gas safety exercise this year, with seven more planned. These safety exercises and training initiatives are part of ongoing efforts to educate community members within PSE&G’s service area about emergency preparedness. Also, October is National Fire Prevention Safety Month.

Prevention is key:

  • Call 811 at least three and no more than 10 business days before each job to have underground pipes, conduits, wires and cables located and marked. Markouts remain valid for 45 business days.
  • Before work begins by excavators, contractors or customers, confirm that a call to 811 has been made and the markout was completed. By law, all digging projects require a call to 811.
  • Both property owners and contractors must maintain and respect the marks. Always hand dig within 2 feet of marked lines, or the area known as the Tolerance Zone, to find the existing facility.
  • Various colors are used when marking lines; to learn what each color represents, visit


What to do if you smell gas:

  • Leave the building as quickly as possible and move 350 feet away from the structure. Take all others with you. If you smell gas outside, move well away from where you suspect the gas is leaking.
  • Call 911 immediately and call PSE&G at 1-800-880-PSEG (7734). (Do NOT call from inside the building. Wait until you are outside and a safe distance to call.)


Learn more about carbon monoxide poisoning:


More information about 811 are available at or on the PSE&G website:
#Call811   #CallBeforeYouDig   #PSEGSafety


Public Service Electric & Gas Co. is New Jersey’s oldest and largest gas and electric delivery public utility, as well as one of the nation’s largest utilities. PSE&G is the 2022 Edison Award recipient from the Edison Electric Institute. PSE&G has won the ReliabilityOne® Award for superior electric system reliability in the Mid-Atlantic region for 21 consecutive years. For the second consecutive year, PSE&G is the recipient of the ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year award in the Energy Efficiency Program Delivery category. In addition, J.D. Power named PSE&G number one in customer satisfaction for both Residential Electric and Natural Gas Service in the East among Large Utilities.