Salas' Earthquake Gas Line Safety Bill Advances

Salas AB 1923 Graphic

SACRAMENTO – Assembly Bill (AB) 1923, authored by Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), passed the Senate Housing Committee with bipartisan, unanimous support. AB 1923 will require the installation of seismic gas shutoff devices on any newly constructed or renovated homes. This legislation comes on the heels of the Ridgecrest earthquakes in Kern County last year during which gas lines leaked and multiple homes caught fire.

“During an earthquake, families need to focus on protecting their loved ones - not worrying about their gas lines starting a deadly fire," said Assemblymember Salas. "When earthquakes occur like the events in Ridgecrest last year, many people are unable to turn off their natural gas lines, which can lead to devastating fires. AB 1923 will fix this issue by installing automatic seismic shutoff devices in new homes to prevent outbreaks of gas leaks and fires during earthquakes.”

After back-to-back earthquakes occurred in Ridgecrest during July of last year, there were reports of multiple gas line breaks and outbreaks of fires at residential homes as a result of the earthquakes. Similarly, the earthquake that occurred in Napa in 2014, which caused widespread damage in the range of $362 million to $1 billion, with one person killed and 200 injured, there were at least three fires blamed on gas line ruptures. The worst of the fires destroyed four homes and damaged two others.

A seismic gas shutoff device is a gas valve mechanism that automatically shuts off the flow of gas in response to seismic activity. Some city and county regulations require the installation of seismic gas shutoff devices on the sale of new homes or renovated homes. For example, the City of Berkeley adopted an ordinance in 2010 requiring the installation of automatic gas shutoff valves under certain conditions. In addition, the City of Berkeley operates an Automatic Gas Shutoff Valve Program where they give out free automatic gas shutoff valves to people in one and two unit buildings who take steps to prepare for disasters.

Specifically, AB 1923 would require that the California Building Standards Commission adopt building standards in the next triennial edition of the California Building Standards Code adopted after January 1, 2021 that would require the installation of a seismic gas shutoff device in any newly constructed, rehabilitated, renovated or reconstructed residential structure.

AB 1923 will be heard next in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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Assemblymember Salas represents part of the City of Bakersfield, the cities of Arvin, Avenal, Corcoran, Delano, Hanford, Lemoore, McFarland, Shafter, Wasco, and the communities of Armona, Buttonwillow, Home Garden, Kettleman City, Lamont, Lost Hills, Stratford and Weedpatch.