While fire spits out of a propane tank, a team of fully-geared firefighters advances on the spewing flame, blasting it with two water hoses.
The team advances in sync, step-by-step, drowning the flame as they march towards the tank. Finally, a firefighter reaches the top of the tank and turns the valve, choking the flame.
The team then starts taking synchronized steps backwards, still spraying the tank with water.
When the team reaches a traffic cone a few dozen feet away from the tank, the firefighting students at the Delaware Area Career Center turn off the water hoses and turn to their instructors for feedback.
Their instructors critique them and give them instructions on how to improve. The team rearranges positions and the instructors reignite the propane tank, but now the flame is spewing from a different part of the tank. The exercise begins again.
Adult Education Firefighting Lead Instructor Matthew Scarbury explained that the exercise shows students how professional firefighters attack a propane tank fire.
“It’s basically how to go in and safely extinguish a (propane tank fire),” Scarbury said. “They are learning how to systematically move up and extinguish the flame.”
Scarbury said in this exercise, the students also have to have one student lag behind the rest to keep track of how much spare hose there is so that the firefighters don’t run out of hose right as they get to the fire.
Scarbury added another important aspect of the drill is turning off the valve and flame, and continuing to spray the tank as the firefighters retreat. Scarbury said it’s important that students learn how to kill the fire and gas, and not just knock it down with water but leave gas in the air, ready to reignite.
The propane tank used for the exercise is a training prop built specifically for this purpose and was brand new before the exercise Friday.
“This prop is going to teach hundreds of students,” Scarbury said.
Scarbury added exercises like this with students putting out fires with real equipment and real tactics give DACC students valuable real-life training, and he said students will go through plenty of simulated fires like the ones conducted Friday.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.