Firefighters put out a propane-tank fire during a practice exercise in the Harlem High School parking lot Saturday.
Donnie FetterFlames shot 20 feet in the air as firefighters from Columbia, McDuffie and Richmond counties practiced putting it out.
The Harlem and Leah volunteer fire departments played host to a training exercise last Saturday at Harlem High School to practice quelling a burning propane tank.
"We do not encounter it very often with the propane tanks, but every time one leaks there is potential for a fire," said David Bullard of the Leah and Harlem fire departments. "Also, when you go to house fires in rural areas, they have propane tanks. So, it is a situation that could be faced."
Supervised by members of the Georgia Fire Academy, firefighters from Harlem, Leah, Martinez, Appling, Grovetown, Thomson and Augusta underwent four hours of classroom training and four hours of hands-on training to be prepared if the situation ever arises. The hands-on portion of the training exercise involved setting a fire to a leaking propane tank so the firefighters could practice getting the blaze under control and shutting off the gas flow.
Firefighters practice putting out a propane tank fire at the Harlem High School parking lot last Saturday.
The live-burn exercise is what firefighters refer to as a BLEVE (boiling liquid expending vapor explosion).
"These fires can be extremely dangerous and we're here to show these firefighters procedures for safely dealing with a BLEVE," said Todd Wainwright, an instructor with the Georgia Fire Academy who is from Taylor County. "We show them the priorities in dealing with this type of fire with the greatest one being preserving life."
Some of the precautions the firefighters learn are how to safely approach a burning propane tank, conducting evacuations and so on.
"This is meant to be an exercise in prevention," said Lt. Chris Gurley, training officer for the Harlem Fire Department. "We're learning the steps we need to take in order to keep a fire from a propane take from getting out of control."
While Gurley believed that, "It's going to be a good show," he said that special precautions were taken, including having Gold Cross emergency medical technicians standing by, to make sure the exercise was conducted safely and without injury.
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