Firefighters practice pressurized fuel fires
for South Peace News
Local firefighters joined forces Oct. 28 to learn how to deal with pressurized fuel fires.
Smoky River regional fire chief John McDermott says the drills are a crucial part of learning how to deal with fires the team could encounter.
“We simulated how we would mitigate a fire involving pressurized fuels,” he says. “It was controlled and methodical, but simulated fires that could occur at our local oil and gas facilities.”
This particular practice has never been done in the Smoky River Region, but is conducted once every one or two years in High Prairie to train volunteer firefighters.
Volunteer firefighters from Smoky River Region Fire and Rescue, Donnelly Fire Department, McLennan Fire Department and High Prairie Fire Department gathered to take part in the exercise Oct. 28.
A total of 20 firefighters attended to learn the basics of putting out pressurized fuel fires.
McDermott says this practice is very safe and the firefighters are instructed every step of the way.
“The firefighters don’t move unless they’re instructed to do so by the attack team’s commander,” says McDermott. “In this scenario, we simulate a pressurized fuel blowout. This enables a firefighter the opportunity to practice in a controlled environment in case they ever have to enter that type of emergency operation.”
McDermott says this is a great experience for the firefighters because they rarely work with live fires when practicing.
“Unless we are able to practice with an actual fire, we can’t fully appreciate what to expect in the case of dealing with a pressurized fuel fire,” says McDermott. In this exercise, firefighters had the opportunity to be literally inches away from live fire burning at 3,000 Celsius or better.”
He explains the necessity of practicing in this fashion extends from what to expect at a pressurized fuel fire to just being prepared for a fire that is intimidating.
“It is definitely valuable training,” he says. “It provides our firefighters the opportunity to safely and effectively fight a pressurized fuel fire, and it is also fun to learn.”
McDermott says the propane was provided by Galleon Energy and Superior Propane, along with the propane bullet. The simulated propane fire was ignited with a propane tree provided by the High Prairie Fire Department.
“Liquid propane was run through the tree ventilation ports,” says McDermott. “We then ignite the propane and have firefighters on safety lines watching to ensure safety of the firefighters on the attack lines.”
McDermott says he would like to continue these exercises in the future.