SoCalGas, L.A. Fire Department Unveil Giant Shovel on National 8-1-1 Day to Raise Public Awareness of the Importance of Having Utilities Marked Before Digging

Thirty-foot-high shovel, one of the largest in the nation, brings attention to importance of calling 811 to have utility lines marked before any digging project, with aim of increasing public safety

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — In recognition of National 8-1-1 Day, Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and Los Angeles Fire Department officials today unveiled a giant 30-foot tall shovel to remind the public about the dangers of hitting utility lines when digging, and to increase awareness of the need to call 811 to have utility lines marked before any home or commercial digging project.  Photos of the event are available here.

“About 60 percent of pipeline damage due to digging is caused by homeowners or contractors who do not call 811 before they dig,” said Jimmie Cho, SoCalGas senior vice president of gas operations and system integrity. “They have no idea where buried pipelines may be, and that’s not safe.  By contrast, when people do call 811, there is a 99.9 percent chance no damage will occur to a buried pipeline or other utility—which means most of these accidental dig-ins are preventable.”

“We want to bring attention to this to increase public safety,” said Trevor M. Richmond, Deputy Chief, Bureau Commander, LAFD Operations Valley Bureau. “Pipelines can be located anywhere—under streets, sidewalks and private property. And hitting one while digging, planting or doing demolition work can not only cause property damage and loss of utility service, it can cause serious injury.”

“Calling 811 is a quick and easy way to ensure that any digging project is safe, protecting home owners, construction workers and property,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield. “The recent explosion in Woodland Hills is a prime example of the importance of calling 811 because with gas, you never can be too safe.”

811 is the national phone number designated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that connects professionals and homeowners who plan to dig with a local call center. The call center collects information about the planned dig site then communicates with the appropriate utility companies, which send professional utility locating technicians to identify and mark the approximate location of lines.

Raising public awareness of the importance of calling 811 before digging is especially timely in the wake of a recent incident involving a Woodland Hills couple who lost their home due to an explosion and fire, after a contractor hired to do plumbing repairs on their property damaged a gas line. By following policy and procedures, two SoCalGas employees helped to ensure no one was injured in the incident.

There were more than 3,000 cases of accidental damage from digging to natural gas lines in SoCalGas’ service territory last year. 

SoCalGas’ giant shovel will continue to be displayed for several months in various locations around the company’s service territory to bring ongoing attention to the importance of pipeline safety.

About SoCalGas
Headquartered in Los Angeles, SoCalGas® is the largest natural gas distribution utility in the United States, providing clean, safe, affordable and reliable natural gas service to 21.7 million customers in Central and Southern California. Its service territory spans 22,000 square miles from Fresno to the Mexican border, reaching more than 550 communities through 5.9 million meters and 101,000 miles of pipeline. More than 90 percent of Southern California single-family home residents use natural gas for home heat and hot water. In addition, natural gas plays a key role in providing electricity to Californians—about 60 percent of electric power generated in the state comes from gas-fired power plants.  

SoCalGas has served communities in California for 150 years and is committed to being a leader in the region’s clean energy future. The company has committed to spending $6 billion over the next five years to modernize and upgrade its gas infrastructure, while also reducing methane emissions. SoCalGas is working to accelerate the use of renewable natural gas, a carbon-neutral or carbon-negative fuel created by capturing and conditioning greenhouse gas emissions from farms, landfills and wastewater treatment plants. The company is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego. For more information visit socalgas.com/newsroom or connect with SoCalGas on Twitter (@SoCalGas), Instagram (@SoCalGas) and Facebook

About the Los Angeles Fire Department
The Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) preserves life and property, promotes public safety and fosters economic growth through a commitment to prevention, preparedness, response and recovery as an all risk life safety response provider. LAFD is a full-spectrum life safety agency protecting more than four million people who live, work and play in America’s second largest city. The LAFD’s 3,246 uniformed fire personnel protect life, property and the environment through their direct involvement in fire prevention, firefighting, emergency medical care, technical rescue, hazardous materials mitigation, disaster response, public education and community service. An equally committed non-sworn cadre of 353 professional support personnel provide technical and administrative expertise in their corresponding pursuit of the department’s mission.

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SOURCE SoCalGas