Fire fighters train with propane tank fire
About 30 fire fighters with the Waynesville Fire Department learned how to control a propane tank fire during a hazmat training session Monday evening.
Waynesville Fire Chief Joey Webb Sr. said several Haywood County residents use propane as their source of heat during winter and it's not unusual for his department to receive calls to inspect a home's propane tank for leaks.
Propane is naturally odorless and colorless, but an odor is added commercially so it can be detected if a leak occurs.
A pressurized liquid, propane's boiling point is negative 43.6 degrees farenheit, which means it vaporizes as soon as it enters the environment. Because propane is more dense than air, a leak will cause it to sink into enclosed areas and pose the risk of explosion and fire.
During the training, which took place in a field in Hazelwood, a propane tank was set on fire creating 30-foot flames within seconds. Fire fighters worked in groups of four, slowly approaching the fire with a high pressure water hose. When they reached the flaming propane tank, they directed the water so a fire fighter could reach through the water and turn off the pressurized valve.
Workers with Freeman Gas were on scene to provide the propane and discuss safety tips for the fire fighters.
Webb said the most important thing propane users should know is that they should make sure their tank never runs completely out of propane.
The following are safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association:
- Handle any propane-powered equipment cautiously and always follow the manufacturer's instructions.
- Cylinder tanks for equipment such as stoves and ovens must be located outside of the home.
- Never store or use propane gas cylinders larger than one pound inside the home.
- Never operate a propane-powered gas grill inside the home.
- Have propane gas equipment inspected periodically by a professional for possible leaks or malfunctioning parts.
- Carefully follow the manufacturer's instructions when lighting a pilot.
- If you smell a strong odor of gas, leave the area immediately and call the fire department from outside the home.