Reducing the Consequences of Gas Line Damage

David Heldenbrand, Bison Engineering & Daniel Saavedra, Bison Engineering

Reducing the Consequences of Gas Line Damage

This session will examine actual incidents of gas line damage and a resulting fire or explosion. It will examine first responder activities and factors of soil migration that were present. By attending this session, the attendee will have a better understanding of future possible first responder activities to reduce the risk of injuries from explosions after an incident.

Date: Tuesday, March 1

Start Time:  12:30 pm

End Time:  1:15 pm

Track(s): Excavator, Oil & Gas, Regulatory & Emergency Services, Public Works


Mr. Heldenbrand is a licensed Professional Engineer and a Certified Fire Investigator. He has a BA in Environmental Biology (1972) and a BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering (1978). He has investigated over 1700 natural gas and propane related fires and explosion related incidents in the past thirty-four years. There have been numerous fires and explosions that Mr. Heldenbrand has investigated where soil gas migration has been involved or possibly involved in the incident. He developed a particular interest in this subject matter because testing that was conducted many years ago showed inconsistencies with traditional theories. He has personally conducted numerous bar-hole surveys after an incident and has been involved in several testing programs that have revealed some very interesting results. From investigations and testing programs, Mr. Heldenbrand saw that large flow rates were possible where gas explosions were experienced and questioned the odor scrubbing capabilities of soil at these large flow rates.

Mr. Heldenbrand has been a licensed Professional Engineer since 1982. He is licensed in Texas and several other states. He was district engineer for a natural gas transmission company and has conducted forensic investigations of natural gas and propane related incidents for the past thirty-four years. He has testified in both state and federal courts across the country.

Mr. Heldenbrand is also a Certified Fire Investigator by the International Association of Fire Investigators (IAAI). These qualifications bring particular insight into this subject matter.

Mr. Heldenbrand has given presentations on the subject of soil gas migration as it relates to gas fires and explosions. He has given presentations to the American Gas Association, Louisiana Gas Association, the Western Regional Gas Conference, International Association of Fire Investigators, the Common Ground Alliance and other groups over the past five years.

Mr. Heldenbrand has also presented to the Natural Gas Odorization Conference in 2019. The subject matter being the effects of soil gas migration and odor scrub as it relates to fires and explosions.

Read articles by David in dp-PRO magazine by clicking here.

Mr. Saavedra has a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from Ohio University. He obtained his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Escuela Colombiana de Ingeniera in Colombia (South America). In the past seven years, Mr. Saavedra has participated in numerous construction defect cases, including natural gas and propane related fires and explosions. He helped develop testing procedures to establish pressure and flow of gas through soils.  He has conducted soil gas migration research and testing in relation to the issues involved in this presentation. After explosions and fires, Mr. Saavedra had conducted soil gas migrations surveys to identify post-incident fuel gas presence.