Live fire

Training to fight propane blazes

By ALLEN BLAIR / The Independent

Morehead — Using a cloud of water like a shield, the firefighters inch toward a blazing jet of gas spewing from a propane truck.

Their movements shimmer as waves of heat wash over them.

That’s when your training kicks in, says Duane Suttles, State Fire Rescue Training’s Area 9 coordinator.

Trust your line, trust your air packs, trust your crew, put the fire out.

This day, the scenario is a practice run as instructors flank the class on either side with safety lines.

Firefighters from Carter, Elliott, Rowan and Montgomery counties made up the training class recently at Morehead, where a state “Response to Propane Truck Emergencies” training highlighted not only techniques in fighting such blazes but also the state’s new bobtail truck “burn prop.”

The training prop, which came from western Kentucky for the class, is part of a fleet that State Fire Rescue Training — a division of KCTCS and the Kentucky Fire Commission — uses all across Kentucky to instruct firefighters and emergency responders.

The two-day training began with a May 8 lecture and ended with the hands-on live burn several days later.

It was a huge success, Suttles said, as 35 firefighters from Grayson, Olive Hill, Morehead, Route 377, Route 504 and Montgomery County departments took the eight hours of training.

During the exercise, attendees donned full breathing gear and utilized what they had learned in the classroom — first doing a “dry run” then extinguishing several different types of blazes occurring after instructors ignited the propane on the truck.

Fuel for the burn was provided by Empire Gas of Grayson through partial funding from the Kentucky Propane Education and Research Council (PERC).

Firefighting vehicles and equipment for the class were provided jointly by State Fire Rescue Training and the Morehead and Route 377 fire departments of Rowan County.