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OFFICER/FIRST RESPONDER SAFETY:
 HAZARDS INVOLVING COPPER THEFT

Please pass along the following information to law enforcement and other first responders, including local fire departments:

Law enforcement in Michigan is aware of the recent metal theft issues in the state. However, the Lansing Fire Department has identified new information on the hazards involving copper theft and it is particularly important that all first responders are aware of these hazards.

In the past month, three home explosions have been linked to the theft of copper. Home explosions in Lansing, Grand Rapids and Flint are suspected to have occurred because thieves damaged the gas lines inside the residence while stealing the copper. Once the gas lines are damaged, the home begins to fill with gas and even a small percentage can cause a flash fire or explosion to occur.

Many radios and flashlights carried by police departments are not "explosion proof" and may ignite the gas within the residence as well as outside of the residence. The Lansing Fire Department recently responded to a gas leak where gas was detected 10 feet from the residence.

It is suggested that an officer responding to a gas leak take several precautions:

Before approaching the home, begin to check for the smell of gas

If an odor is detected outside or within the residence, exit and remove all people and sources of ignition from the area

Call the local fire department and gas utility provider for assistance (A-104)