Thursday, August 24, 2006
County firemen practice putting out LP gas blaze
By BARRY BURLESON
Flames shot 40 feet into the air.
The intense heat reached approximately 3,500 degrees.
Several groups of Marshall County firemen moved forward as teams, hoses in hand, and repeatedly extinguished the enormous fire, which simulated an LP (liquefied petroleum) truck ablaze.
“It’s a new prop from the State Fire Academy, and we’d never done this before in Marshall County,” said Byhalia Fire Chief Leland Reed, who requested the training. “With all these LP gas trucks going up and down the road, we felt it was very much needed.”
Holly Springs Fire Chief Kenny Holbrook agreed with the importance of the exercise.
“This (an LP truck accident) is something that could happen in any community,” Holbrook said. “They’re on the street every day.
“The Academy is trying to make the training as realistic as possible.”
Sixty-four firemen, 60 of those from Marshall County, completed the course. It included classroom instruction on Monday night, Aug. 14, at the new Byhalia Fire Station and then hands-on training Tuesday night, Aug. 15, in the parking lot at Dreamland in Holly Springs.
“It was available to any firefighter in the county, and they were certainly encouraged to participate by the chiefs and myself,” said Hugh Hollowell, county fire coordinator and emergency management director. “The turnout was excellent, and they all received training hours and a certificate from the training academy.
“It’s much better to experience this the first time in a controlled environment with emergency shutoff capabilities and numerous observers looking at safety.”
Reed said the powerpoint presentation by State Fire Academy representatives in the classroom was excellent.
“It taught them what to do and what to expect – how to prepare to fight these type of fires,” Reed said.
Then they put what they had learned into action.
Holbrook explained that firemen approached the simulated LP gas truck blaze with two hoses, both for protection and extinguishing.
“Then once they get close enough, they use both hoses for protection to cut the valve off,” he said.
Hollowell added, “It’s all about using the proper water patterns to control it so you can get up close enough to turn it (the valve) off.
“You don’t want to extinguish the fire without shutting off the gas, because you have a build-up of gas that could have an ignition source somewhere else.”
Hollowell said firefighters who completed the training exercise were impressed.
“Some didn’t realize the intensity of the heat,” he said. “They were somewhat surprised that the water shield protected them from the heat so well.
“You can hear it in the classroom, but you can’t understand it until you actually feel it.”
Reed, Holbrook and Hollowell all expressed thanks to Nancy Skelton of Synergy Gas and Billy Autry of Dreamland.
“Synergy made a generous donation of fuel and without that this exercise would not have been possible,” Holbrook said. “We’re really grateful for their donation, plus, they, too, recognize the need for this type of training.
“We also thank Billy Autry for the use of the parking lot at his facility. It was hard for us to find space large enough, and again, without his help we would not have been able to conduct this training.”
Reed, Holbrook and Hollowell all agreed it was a successful venture.
“A plan came together, and it all worked out very well,” Reed said.
“If everybody goes home safe, it’s a good day,” Hollowell said.
“I think it really built the confidence of the firemen,” Holbrook said. “They know they have the ability to handle it.”
A second part of the live burn training Tuesday night of last week involved a simulated residential propane tank fire. This had been taught before in Marshall County, but it was well worth repeating, according to firefighters.
(662) 252-4261 or firstname.lastname@example.org
managed and maintained by