When a fire department is called to respond to a fire, training has taught members as one of its first duties to ensure the fuel source has not been compromised.
The question departments must answer then is what if it has been.
To address that issue, members of the Redwood Falls Fire Department received training in controlling propane fires in residential meters and 500-pound cylinders through a federal grant allocated through the state in conjunction with the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MNSCU).
According to Matt Grave, Redwood Falls Fire Department chief, the members received three hours of classroom training Nov. 1 before taking on a propane fire simulator one week ago.
The hazardous material training (HAZMAT), which was conducted by officials from Minnesota West Community and Technical Colleges, allowed members of the department to face both fires that could start in gas meters one might find on city residences, as well as the cylinders one might find at rural residences.
Grave said while this type of fire is not all that common having that training just in case is very important for members of the department.
Every member of a fire department is required to have 12 hours of training for every three years they serve with a fire department.
As a rule, said Grave, the local department trains on two Thursdays each month, but those hours of local training do not count toward the required hours.
When a fire of this nature occurs departments do not focus on putting out the fire, as the constant source of fuel for the fire does not make that possible. What the training helps the department learn to do is put down a fog of water that allows someone to move in and shut off the fuel valve.
“We talked about doing this training on our own,” said Grave, adding the chance to receive this kind of training through the grant is very valuable for them. “The last time any of us remember receiving this training was 12 years ago.”
Grave said the 30-member local department is pretty young with the majority of them having less than 10 years of experience. This kind of training allows those younger members, as well as the more experienced veterans, a chance to improve their skills and goes a long way toward being ready for every possible fire situation they might face as they serve the community.