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Firefighters plan exercise

Fire department to battle propane tree

Jennie Lay

There’s no need to alert the fire department to the blazing hot, 50-foot flames you will see shooting into the sky Monday evening in Yampa. It’s the Yampa fire department that will be lighting the fire.

Regional fire departments are gathering on the grass field at Yampa Elementary School at 6 p.m. Monday to learn how to shut down incoming propane lines in the event of a fire. They are lighting a “propane tree,” an iron pipe that blows out the flammable gas and has a valve that firefighters will try to shut despite surrounding flames.

Firefighters use a “two-hand fight” technique to shut off propane valves, whereby they shoot water from two water hoses at the base of the flames so the shutoff valve is approachable.

This is a particularly important skill for firefighters in rural parts of the county, where a lot of people who don’t have access to natural gas use propane tanks for their home heating, Yampa firefighters said.

In the past, the fire department has received a flood of calls when they lit 50 feet of fire for the exercise, Yampa firefighters said. But residents should not be alarmed, because this is a controlled exercise.

Firefighters from the West Routt, Oak Creek, Steamboat Springs, Yampa and Kremmling fire protection districts are participating in the training exercise. The Yampa Fire Protection District, one of the county’s largest and most rural districts, owns the propane tree and traditionally has loaned it to other districts for training purposes.

In the future, the volunteer firefighters from Yampa are planning to make this an annual training event for the region’s largely volunteer fire departments. There will be fire engines on hand.

–To reach Jennie Lay call 871-4210

or e-mail jlay@steamboatpilot.com


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