Area departments partake in drill


propane-drillBy Jaime Thomas

Huge flames lit up the night sky and surrounding area as firefighters combated a propane burn in Hartford last Monday and Tuesday nights.

Five or six departments from around Washington County were participating in a controlled ethanol drill as part of a three day course. The New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control conducted the class, which included one night in a classroom and two nights battling blazes.

“We put in for the class a year ago. They recently offered it to us, and we gratefully accepted,” said Brian Jones, Hartford fire chief.

He said about 35 personnel participated in the grant-funded course, coming from Hartford, Hebron, Fort Ann, Kingsbury, Fort Edward and Cambridge.

“They loved it; they said it was one of the best classes they’ve ever taken,” Jones said. During the drill, the educators gave everyone the opportunities to be at the head of the hose and do different jobs as well. Jones said it’s important to have a number of people on the hose line, and Hartford hosted the practice because it has a strong water supply.

As the propane tanker continued to ignite, firefighters used water and foam to douse the flames, and onlookers observed from a safe distance.

Jones said the drill is becoming more relevant as more ethanol and crude oil is traveling through the region daily with rail cars coming from North Dakota and heading to Albany.

“They’ve upped the number of cars going by. Doesn’t mean it can’t happen here or that it would happen here. You never know,” Jones said. He thinks area firefighters who participated in the activity benefited from it.

“They’re a lot better prepared — every case has a different twist. I enjoyed it a lot, and I thought it was well worth it,” he said.

Crews in Warren County participated in the drill in the days after Hartford did, and Jones said it would be taking place in western New York soon thereafter.

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