Today, our Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is hosting its first ever Pipeline Emergency Response Forum, and DOT is honored to welcome America's first responders. We are a stronger, safer, more secure nation for their efforts, and this is an important opportunity to share ideas about improving their ability to keep people, property, and the environment safe following a pipeline failure.
Our emergency responders are usually the first people on the scene when an accident occurs, and it is vital that they have the information they need about the pipelines in their communities. To support their critical work, it is important that we develop improved strategies for responding to pipeline emergencies.
And we can't develop stronger emergency response plans without hearing from the men and women with boots on the ground, getting the job done, day in and day out. We’re counting on their input as we develop policies and programs to keep them safer, and the people they serve safer. Participants at today's forum will also include community leaders, pipeline safety regulators, pipeline industry representatives, and members of the public.
PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman kicked things off this morning by highlighting the importance of involving the fire service community in key decisions related to pipeline safety. So we also announced that we're selecting two senior members of the fire service community to serve on PHMSA’s technical pipeline safety advisory committees.
The pipeline explosions that occurred in Allentown and San Bruno are exactly the type of tragedy that PHMSA works so hard to prevent. I visited both communities, and was privileged to meet with families who were affected.
American communities, like Allentown and San Bruno, deserve to know that our pipelines are safe, regularly tested, and well-maintained. That's why, we have developed a pipeline safety action plan to strengthen oversight and accountability – and to ensure that the public has access to pipeline safety information.
And in both communities, I also had the opportunity to meet some of the first responders who arrived at the chaotic, dangerous scenes – and who didn’t think twice before putting their own safety on the line to help others. It takes a special kind of valor, and a certain brand of selflessness, to do the work they do.
We owe them a more effective response strategy and more effective tools in the event of pipeline emergencies. More importantly, we owe it to them and the American people to improve pipeline safety. We must do all we can to protect the safety of communities around the country and the safety of first responders. Today's forum is one more step toward those critical safety goals.