More than 100 hazmat technicians from fire departments throughout New Hampshire attended emergency response training provided by the Propane Gas Association of New England.
With a grant from the state’s Department of Safety, and working in conjunction with the New Hampshire Fire Academy, PGANE offered a full day’s training—live propane demonstrations including leak mitigation and assessment of bobtail and tractor-trailer incidents—each day for five consecutive days, May 8-12. Attendees included hazmat technicians from fire departments in Concord, Manchester, Nashua, the Lakes Region, Capital Area and Seacoast, along with dozens of volunteer fire departments from across the state.
“As the use of propane grows in New Hampshire and across New England, it is critical that our emergency responders understand how to handle any incidents and feel comfortable working with propane,” Byron Breda, PGANE’s safety training coordinator, said. The association regularly conducts three-day programs, Breda said. “This five-day program allows more departments to participate than ever before.”
The New Hampshire Fire Academy reached out to PGANE last year for training for hazmat firefighters—personnel who serve in cities as well as volunteers who serve in departments in smaller communities around the state, Leslie Anderson, president and CEO of PGANE, said in a phone interview the week that the program was conducted at the New Hampshire Fire Academy in Concord. Many of PGANE’s New Hampshire members served as instructors, Anderson said.
“It’s a great networking opportunity between the fire departments and our member responders,” Anderson said. In the event of an incident, they can work together more effectively, Anderson said.
AmeriGas, an LPG distribution company headquartered in King of Prussia, Pa., donated a bobtail to the New Hampshire Fire Academy, which was used in the trainings, Anderson noted. And last year Dead River Co., based in Maine, donated a bobtail to the Massachusetts Fire Academy in Stow. The trucks are critical to training, Anderson said. “The most common incident for first responders would be a rollover, and it normally would be a bobtail that rolls over,” Anderson said. Being able to show the first responders and firefighters a bobtail—where the valves are and how to secure everything—“that’s really important training,” she said. Also covered is the proper way to get a bobtail upright if it has rolled over on its side.
“There have been some incidents where first responders have tried to right a bobtail and it hasn’t gone quite as well as it could have,” Anderson said. “You don’t want to damage the meter box on the back of the truck when you’re lifting it.” The training covers how to get the up-righted bobtail off the road quickly so that it can be moved to another location, Anderson added.
PGANE established its “Handling Propane Emergencies” training program in 1987. The program continues to be held in states across New England each year to train firefighters and industry personnel on the proper techniques in handling various propane incidents involving tanks, transportation, leaks, and fires.
PGANE maintains a reference book for emergencies for the New England area that lists experts at its member companies who have gone through the training. They are listed by district. “If you have an incident in a certain part of a state you can look up [an expert] if you need help,” Anderson said.
“As a police officer or a firefighter who is responding or another member company that needs help –you can go to this [book] and call members of the Propane Emergency Response group that will come in and assist,” Anderson said.
The association sends a copy of the book every couple of years to fire departments, distributes it at the trainings, and it is also available at the association’s website. The association also makes grants to fire departments to fund training. For company members of PGANE seeking to build a relationship with a local fire department, Anderson said, “You can offer training to the department and PGANE pays for the tuition. We really encourage our members to reach out to their local fire departments, to get to know them. It’s beneficial even if they just invite them to come and look at their bulk plants or their office operation, show them what they have, and talk about propane. And then we like to build on that by asking them what kind of training they need.”
Anderson added, “I’m committed to expanding our training for Emergency Responders and we are doing quite a bit more training in this area than we have before. I think it is extremely important and a benefit to the industry in terms of safety, but also to create partnerships with the firefighters in the areas where our members are located. In the event that there is a rollover or a propane incident, this partnership and familiarity among marketers, PGANE and the local fire departments is invaluable.”
For more information on propane safety, contact the Propane Gas Association of New England at 888.445.1075 or visit www.pgane.org. Based in Epsom, N.H. the association serves more than 800 members of the propane industry, promoting safety, education, and public awareness of the uses of propane.—Stephen Bennett
PICTURED (this page): Byron Breda, PGANE’s safety and training director (in white cap), provides instruction on how to deal with a bobtail accident.
PICTURED (home page): A demonstration of how to deal with a propane leak.
Photos by Caryn Gwizdal/PGANE
A version of this article appears on Page 32 of the June 2018 print and digital issues of Fuel Oil News with the headline: “PGANE Trains Firefighters.”