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News and quick-hit commentary from around mid-Michigan ... from the Morning Sun.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Firefighters train to battle propane blazes

Many mid-Michigan firefighters trained Wednesday in St. Louis in the art and the science of battling propane fires.

Watch the video, and watch closely what the firefighter has to do to put out the fire -- it's near the end:

Propane is, after all, supposed to burn. It's become ubiquitous as a home heating fuel in rural areas, to power barbecue grills, in many agricultural applications and elsewhere. But if something goes bad, the fire can be spectacular and dangerous.

There's a reason Hollywood special-effects efforts use propane to create filmed fireballs. It burns with a distinctive yellow flame and will keep burning until the fuel's gone or turned off.

According to the experts at the Michigan Propane Gas Association, which conducted the training, that's the key to fighting a propane fire. Firefighters have to find a way to cut off the fuel, and that requires getting close to the source.

While streams of water play on the flaming tank -- the tank is simulated, the flames are very real and very hot -- a team approaches behind a cooling spray of water.

The firefighters don't rush.

There's a reason firefighters wear protective clothing, air tanks and heavy gloves.

To get to the valve, a firefighter opens the lid on the simulated 500-gallon pig ...

... and while a protective spray of water covers him, the tank and the team, he turns the valve to shut off the propane -- and the fire.
(Photos by Andrew Ranzenberger)


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