The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Iron County firefighters attend propane fire training


Richard Jenkins/Daily Globe

IRON COUNTY firefighters work to control a propane fire during a training event in Mercer's Carow Park Wednesday night. The training was hosted by the Mercer Fire Department and sponsored by the Wisconsin Propane Education and Research Council.


MERCER, Wis. - Firefighters from several southern Iron County departments gathered at Carow Park in Mercer Wednesday to learn how to handle potential propane fires.

Roughly 30 firefighters from the Mercer, Sherman-Springstead and Oma fire departments attended the training event; which was hosted by the Mercer Fire Department and sponsored by the Wisconsin Propane Education and Research Council.

The training event began with classroom instruction on the properties of propane and other basics, before attendees went outside for the hands-on portion of the training.

The hands-on portion simulated a variety of scenarios involving propane fires - including a leaky gas grill; residential tank leak and a leak on a commercial filling tank similar to what would be found at a gas station.

Contrary to what some may expect, putting out the fire is not the best method of dealing with a propane fire. According to trainers Joe Kobielak, Logan Simkowski and Christian Durkin; the fire is not only burning off fuel but also allows responders to see where the otherwise invisible propane is going.

Rather than putting out the fire, the firefighters were taught to use the spray of the fire hose to push the heat and gas from the fire just enough so someone can get to the shutoff valve and cut off the fire's fuel source.

Trainings such as Wednesday nights are valuable for the local departments, according to Mercer Fire Department Capt. Todd Engler, as they allow for the crews to practice how to perform in an emergency setting without the risks associated with an actual emergency.

"Preparedness is No. 1 for personnel safety," Engler said. "Without being prepared and aware of what you're up against, it (can be extremely dangerous)."

The department does a handful of trainings like Wednesday each year, according to Engler, and meets weekly for in-house training and to check equipment.


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