Firefighting personnel from Monett, Pierce City, Aurora, Purdy, Boone County and Highlandville fire departments attended the exercise, hosted by the Monett Fire Department. Instructors from Missouri University Fire and Rescue Training Institute (MU FRTI) conducted the training.
"It looks dangerous, but the propane tank is actually filled with water," said Lt. Shane Anderson, training officer for the Monett Fire Department. "The propane was supplied and donated by Titan Propane and was located a safe distance from the demonstration area."
Firefighters practiced extinguishing flames that shot up to 60 feet into the night sky, using a cross-spray pattern as they approached the burning tank to shut off the supply valve.
"The flames look dangerous to passing citizens who happen to see us during practice sessions," said Jim Weaver, MU FRTI's lead instructor for the LPG (liquid propane gas) program, "but what they are seeing is a controlled and safe fire training exercise."
"This course is vital to an area such as ours, where LP usage is very common," said Anderson.
"Live fire conditions are necessary to give local firefighters the training needed to safely deal with LP fires," Weaver said. "One of the critical things we teach a firefighter is how to size up the situation. They need to know when to stay and fight an LP fire and when it's too dangerous and they should evacuate the area. Those decisions have to be made in seconds and should be based on the ultimate risk to human life.
"Life safety, for citizens and for firefighters, is our number one concern," Weaver said.
The course consisted of eight hours of lectures and four hours of practical training. Lectures teach the physical properties of propane and how it reacts under various conditions. Instructors also discussed the kinds of LP containers firefighters might encounter and special techniques for handling each situation.
LP courses are made possible to firefighters around the state through a cooperative effort between the Missouri Propane Education and Research Council (MOPERC), local emergency planning committees and the Missouri Emergency Response Commission (MERC). The free training was provided to firefighters through the MERC.
Fire chiefs attending the event were: Jim Weaver, Columbia Fire Department; Mike Booth, Kansas City Fire Department; Mike Redshaw, Purdy Fire Protection District; Robert Ward, Aurora Fire Department; and Jerry Marbut, Larry Eden and Anderson, all of the Monett Fire Department.