Seventy firefighters from 10 area fire departments recently participated in a liquid propane gas seminar and live fire exercise hosted by the Houston Mesa Fire Department.
"The exercise was intended to give the firefighters confidence in themselves, their protective gear and their equipment in the face of a violent, extremely hot and very noisy ‘Christmas Tree' or a propane tank fully engulfed in roaring flames reaching 40 feet in the air," said Houston Mesa Fire Chief Frank Hansen.
The ‘Christmas Tree' is a device about 10-feet tall with branches out of which liquid propane is pushed under pressure.
When the gas is lit, it is an awesome and intimidating sight, according to Hansen.
Teams of five fighters with two closely aligned fire streams took turns approaching within two feet of the tree, turning off a valve and backing away.
The domestic-type propane tank was also rigged with various orifices from which liquid propane flowed. When lit, the tank became a ball of roaring fire with flames rising higher than a three-story house.
Successive three-man teams with one hose line approached within a few feet and turned off a valve.
The exercise utilized two fire engines, three water tenders and a utility truck. Besides the Houston Mesa, participating fire departments included St. Johns, Tonto Basin, Forest Lakes, Tonto Village, Gisela Valley, Beaver Valley, Whispering Pines, Blue Ridge, Diamond Star and Payson.
Energy West donated a 500-gallon propane tank and propane.