Volunteer Firefighters learn to fight propane fires - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Volunteer Firefighters learn to fight propane fires

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A number of volunteer firefighters spent tonight learning how to fight propane gas fires.  In a rural area, fire officials say it's important to learn how to fight these type of fires.

A burning L-P tank lit up the night sky in Liberty this evening.  The University of Illinois Fire Service Institute was training local firefighters how to handle a situation they could see on any local farm or backyard.  And for some firefighters, this was a completely new way of dealing with a fire.

"Sometimes you have to back away. It's not like a structure fire where you can fight it all the time. Sometimes you have to leave and let it burn. It's pretty tough. I don't like leaving anything unfinished. That's kinda what it sounds like we have to do sometimes leave it unfinished," said volunteer firefighter Michael Perkins.   

This is the first time Perkins came to a class on how to deal with propane gas fires. After about an hour in the classroom, he said the value of hands on training is important.

"It will help me out a lot. Because there is a lot of hands on that we have to learn how to do and I look forward on how to do it the right way," he said.  

Trainers set a propane tank on fire, so firefighters were able to see a gas fire firsthand. Liberty Fire Chief Don Loos says gas fire training is especially important for local fire departments.

"We're in a rural area. A lot of our farmers and residents heat with L.P. and farmers dry grain with it. So about 90 to 95% of our population has L.P.," he said.  

Even though there hasn't been a lot of propane fires in the area, Chief Loos said that doesn't mean they can ignore it.

"But the potential is there. I mean you can get a house fire and it can turn into an L.P. tank fire pretty quick. A truck overturning delivering LP, the potential's always there," said Loos.

Even though these firefighters are volunteer, Chief Loos said they are expected to know as much information as fire departments in Chicago or St. Louis.

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