Plan Says Emergency Responders Should Decide on Evacuations
The plan, first adopted in 2006, empowers “incident commanders” from the fire or police departments to make the evacuation call during routine emergencies, including “minor threats from explosions.”
Private workers aren’t mentioned. But the protocol instructs incident commanders to consider a “worst probable scenario” when making the decision.
Such a scenario struck Tuesday.
Answering to 911 calls of a strong natural gas odor, first-responding Kansas City firefighters followed the lead of a Missouri Gas Energy worker and did not initiate an evacuation of JJ’s restaurant or nearby homes and businesses.
An hour after those calls, the Country Club Plaza restaurant exploded, killing one person and injuring more than a dozen others.
Accounts by the city and the utility indicate MGE did ask people to leave in the moments before the explosion — but well after the odor of natural gas filled the tiny eating spot and wine bar.