Firefighters take on propane blazes

GETTING CLOSE IS REQUIRED—Firefighters were advised not to put out a burning propane fire unless they can turn off the source of the fuel. Here they prepare to hand close the valve on a home unit.

GETTING CLOSE IS REQUIRED—Firefighters were advised not to put out a burning propane fire unless they can turn off the source of the fuel. Here they prepare to hand close the valve on a home unit.

The public is safer from the threat of a propane disaster, thanks to training offered by the Michigan Propane Gas Association (MPGA).

Cannon, Courtland and Oakfield Township firefighters practiced defeating propane fires on Monday, June 15.

“This may be the only propane training any of them ever receive,” said Derek Dalling, spokesperson for the MPGA.

Firefighters followed classroom-style training with hands-on practice turning off the fuel source of burning propane tanks. They used a hose technique that allows a firefighter to get close to the huge blaze and reach through the wall of protective water.

“No other fire burns like propane,” said Dalling. Michigan uses more propane than any other state in the country. Grill fires are the most common type of propane emergency to which firefighters respond. Tanks should only be filled to 85 percent because propane expands in heat. Fires can also be caused by homemade fixes of damaged hoses.

WALL OF WATER—Firefighters practiced this formation, which allows the center person to reach through a protective wall of water into the flames. If this technique is not done correctly, propane and flame escape under the water and burns around rescue workers’ legs and lower bodies. Firefighters practiced putting out home propane units, meter fires and grill propane fires.

WALL OF WATER—Firefighters practiced this formation, which allows the center person to reach through a protective wall of water into the flames. If this technique is not done correctly, propane and flame escape under the water and burns around rescue workers’ legs and lower bodies. Firefighters practiced putting out home propane units, meter fires and grill propane fires.


Although firefighters have to  literally reach into the fire to stop the flow of fuel, they also face frostbite due to the temperature of the escaping fuel.

The fire practice was interrupted when a call came in about a fire with flames showing. The first responders quickly realized someone had called in their practice as an out-of-control  fire.

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