‘Catastrophic’ situations covered by BETH ALTENA Rockford Fire Marshal Mike Reus said he would guess a recent explosion that blew a trailer home apart likely involved a propane fire and that cases where even stick-built homes are literally destroyed in an explosion are also likely caused by a propane leak that becomes ignited. Area firefighters were trained on handling what the Michigan Propane Gas Association (MPGA) called ‘catastrophic situations’ on Thursday, August 30 at the Cedar Spring Fire Department. The event included increasingly difficult propane fires with flames shooting more than 60 feet into the air. During the training a nearby tree was accidently ignited and had to be hosed down. Reus said understanding the nature of propane is an important skill for firefighters and the “big, big” thing about propane is that it is heavier than air and will sink and pool rather than rise and disperse. The potential explosion from such a leak can indeed be considered catastrophic. “If you see a house just blown clear off the foundation, it is probably propane,” Reus said. He noted that in the case of the Squire office, a propane leak would doubtless go to the lower level of the building, where most homes have furnaces and other mechanicals located. Reus said in the case of a home closed off for the winter, even a minute leak over time would result in a catastrophic explosion. He noted that even the flicking on of a lightswitch—for instance in the middle of the night when a person gets up to use the bathroom—would be enough to ignite an explosion. “Even turning on a light results in a small electric spark that people never see,” he described. Reus said propane is a mixture of chemicals that is, in part, a byproduct of the processing of gasoline. LPG stands for Liquid Petroleum Gas and he said in its earliest uses the compound was used as a burning source for heat. He explained that propane here in the United States may differ from the mixture used in other countries, making the handling and use of the gas a tricky matter. During the controlled propane fires, teams of first responders practiced techniques to subdue flaming tanks with extremely hot fires. The techniques […]
September 20 2012
The Michigan House of Representatives Tuesday hosted a ceremony honoring first responders and Michigan natives lost in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. State Rep. Peter MacGregor invited Courtland Township Fire Chief Mickey Davis to the event. “Sept. 11, 2001 was a tragic day in our nation’s history that we must never forget so we continue to honor those who died and all first responders who continue to fight for our safety,” said MacGregor, R-Rockford. “It was my honor to have Chief Davis with me on the House floor for this special ceremony. I greatly appreciate his sacrifices and the sacrifices of all first responders putting their lives on the line to protect us.” Following the presentation of the colors by a Michigan State Police Honor Guard, the names of fallen military members and first responders were read and honored. The ceremony is an annual event in the Michigan House.
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Ironically, while the Rockford Historical Society is gearing up to move its Rockford Area Museum to the vacant 63rd District Court Building adjacent to Rockford City Hall, at the very same time, what might be the oldest manufacturing facility in Rockford is about to be demolished and removed. The Burch Body Works facility, located in the very heart of Rockford on the southeast corner of Rum Creek and Monroe St., was until January 2006 the home of Rockford’s oldest continuously operating business. Dating back to 1866, when it manufactured horse drawn carriages and drays, today Burch is an innovative provider of practical solutions for custom work truck applications in the Great Lakes region, across the country, and around the world. In late December 2005 the employees of Burch purchased the business, but not the property, from its current owner and shortly thereafter relocated the company’s operations to a more suitable manufacturing facility on Childsdale Ave., in Plainfield Township. Speaking for Burch Body Works, LLC, Andrew Laitila said, “We hated to leave Rockford but the antiquated building was beyond repair and a totally unsafe work environment. It was also functionally obsolete and ill suited for any type of commercial business let alone the manufacture and installation of our highly specialized work truck products.” Upon Burch’s move out of Rockford, the property owner placed the beautiful 6+-acre Rum Creek-side property on the market. All attempts, thus far, to sell the property have been unsuccessful. In the meantime, for the past six years, the main building on the property has fallen into further disrepair. Even though securely gated and surrounded by an eight-foot chain link fence, the property has been repeatedly trespassed upon and the building broken into and vandalized. More relevant, at some point in early winter 2011 a major portion of the building, on its northeast corner, collapsed in upon itself. With a great concern for the neighborhood and its citizens and also for those who are illegally entering the property and putting themselves in harms way, the City of Rockford this past spring presented the property owner with a demolition order. The property owner is cooperating and willingly complying, has secured demolition funding, and is currently working through the […]
The Cannon Township Fire Department will host a free pancake breakfast on October 6, from 8 to 10 a.m. The breakfast will be at Cannon Township Fire Station 2, at 6878 Belding Road NE. Breakfast will be served by firefighters and will include pancakes, sausages, eggs, orange juice and coffee. Although the breakfast is free, donations will be accepted with proceeds going to the Great Lake Burn Camp, which benefits kids six through 17 with healing, growth and support from other burn survivors in a summer camp environment. Aside from the breakfast, kids can tour the department’s various fire apparatus and the fire station. The community breakfast is a wonderful event hosted by the fire department to kick off Fire Prevention Week. The Kent County Sheriff Department will have an information table open from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. with educational items. Lt. Marc Burns, Shift Commander and a Community Officer will be available to meet with you and your family members. This is a wonderful time to learn tips from our experts to help keep our neighborhoods safer.