Members of the Terrace Fire Department approach a propane fire during a training exercise on July 11, 2021. (Binny Paul/Terrace Standard)

Members of the Terrace Fire Department approach a propane fire during a training exercise on July 11, 2021. (Binny Paul/Terrace Standard)

VIDEO: Terrace Fire Department conducts live propane fire training

Members of the Terrace Fire Department learn how to battle propane fires

Members of the Terrace Fire Department were feeling the heat during live-fire training on July 11.

The training exercise, funded by AltaGas and delivered by Emergency Response Assistance Canada (ERAC), provided members with hands-on experience dealing with propane fires.

“For the firefighters, it all comes down to how to perform your job safely and effectively, number one, we always have to make sure firefighters are safe.” said Dave Jephson, Terrace Fire Department deputy fire chief.

“This training allows the firefighters to look at a fire possibly on a propane tank or from a propane tank, and come up with a plan to mitigate that problem.”

Members approached the fires in two teams, using water to shield themselves from the flames until they were able to get close enough to turn off the valve. Jephson said the aim is not to extinguish the flames before the valve is closed, because if propane continues to leak, it can re-ignite or explode if there is another ignition source.

The training took place behind the Terrace public works building on Graham Ave., and Skeena —Bulkley Valley NDP MP Taylor Bachrach, Skeena Liberal MLA Ellis Ross and Terrace Mayor Carol Leclerc attended the the Sunday training as spectators.

“The whole goal here is public safety and first responder safety and getting them the feel for this,” said Spencer Buckland, ERAC president.

“[Firefighters] want to get out and and feel it and understand how the fire behaves … but you can’t do that in a classroom. You have to get out and and do the real thing and and feel the heat and understand it.”

Jephson said that while propane fires are not necessarily common, incidents with barbecues that use propane are, and leaking propane can quickly become a larger incident if there is an ignition source. A fire impinging on another tank can weaken it and heat the contents inside, causing an explosion.

“We want to prevent that, and for a rail car incident, we have an increase in rail car traffic in our community,” Jephson said.

“How do we make that work? How do we support industry? How do we support business providing that service? How do we support our citizens and our community? Training like this enables that for us.”