About 15 Vale firefighters got some specialized training last week in a drill that literally raised the FLAG.
The Flammable Liquids and Gas training program, dubbed FLAG, gave the crew hands-on experience dealing with the explosive danger when a fire hits a propane or natural gas tank.
The Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training provided the equipment – a trailer simulator equipped with a tank and valves – for the drill. The agency also sent two staffers to work with the local department in the training.
Vale Fire Lt. Luke Braniff said some members of the department had taken the training several years ago, but it was new to others.
It’s important knowledge, he said, as fire crews are apt to encounter gas tanks when they work fires, especially at rural properties and ranches.
Working in teams, the firefighters trained in safe ways to direct a stream of water at the tank – not to douse the fire but to cool the gas inside as it continues to escape. Then the teams worked on creating a “full fog” pattern that can push down the flame and provide a safe zone for a firefighter to get in and turn off the valve, shutting down the source of fuel to the fire.
Braniff said the already escaped gas will burn off, but eliminating the source is the key to getting the fire stopped.