Delran Fire Chief Kevin Peak’s two public servant roles united recently when he participated in a virtual safety exercise with PSE&G’s Burlington Gas division. That’s because Peak is also a first auto technician in Fleet Maintenance, after starting his PSE&G career with a brief stint in Gas Operations.
“I was really excited because I had been hearing about the trainings for years now, and I’ve always wanted to be a part,” Peak said. “I knew a little about Gas Ops but didn’t know everything. Now, in a command role, it’s great to know the ins and outs of PSE&G’s process in terms of handling, attending or responding to a major gas leak. It was good to understand how, in a real world situation, we would be working together to come to a resolution as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
Peak is one of many PSE&G employees who serve their communities with double duty – as both emergency first responders and utility responders. In Peak’s case, he knew he wanted to work at the utility because both his father and his brother are PSE&G retirees. But joining the fire department was more of a fluke.
As a young man about two decades ago, one day he and his childhood friend joined his friend’s brother in helping clean up after a fire event. He said he went from rolling hoses to filling out the firefighter application. He rose through nearly every position in the ranks before becoming chief, about three years ago.
“It’s a rewarding feeling knowing that you are going to help somebody on their worst day – help to make them feel a little better and bring them some ease, or put some calm into the chaos,” Peak said of his fire service. “It’s a way to give back to the community.”
Many PSE&G employees have made similar statements about why they take such pride in working to keep people’s lights on and the natural gas flowing.
To ensure the safety of first responders and the community, throughout the exercise Gas Distribution Supervisor Dan Wister emphasized safety and open communications.
“I look forward to doing things like this,” Wister said at the event’s conclusion. “It’s nice to perform and have a very functional and good drill where you can learn and have a great outcome.”
This event marked the first Gas Ops safety exercise for Brian Clark, who assumed his role as vice president, Gas Operations, in March 2022.
“This is one of the most important things we do from the perspective of planning for an emergency,” Clark said. “As the adage goes, ‘Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.’ The more we practice the more we develop muscle memory, and doing the right thing becomes a reflex.”
Clark noted that he was not surprised that so many PSE&G employees are also firefighters and EMTs. “As PSE&G employees, we are often first responders to emergencies, and we care deeply about our customers and the communities we serve.”
The gas safety exercises, organized by Emergency Preparedness Manager Matt Khaled, are held every year, with remaining 2022 trainings scheduled for PSE&G Jersey City, Summit, Trenton, Oakland and Clifton Gas districts.