Baysville firefighters contain...
Baysville firefighters contain propane leak at LOB brewery
HUNTSVILLE/LAKE OF BAYS – The propane leaking from a Baysville brewery could have been devastating had it found a flame.
Firefighters at the Emergency Training Centre use a misting pattern and team approach to learn how to contain a propane fire.
Gary Monahan, deputy fire chief with the Huntsville and Lake of Bays fire departments, said the eight 420-pound propane tanks connected to each other at Lake of Bays Brewing Company could have exploded on June 28 if not for the quick action of the fire department.
“The incident could have been a disaster,” said Monahan. “When you’re dealing with such huge tanks that are all tied together and spewing out raw liquid propane – if it wasn’t for training our firefighters had – a single spark, such as someone having a campfire in the middle of Baysville, could have caused a catastrophe.”
A caller reported a hissing sound at the brewery around 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 28. Fire crews found propane leaking from a malfunctioning fitting. They isolated the leaking tank from the others and shut off the propane.
The leak was caused by a loose fitting that had been put on the tank by a propane company earlier that day. The fitting has since been replaced.
Monahan said the Baysville fire department was able to react quickly and effectively to the leak because of the propane emergency training firefighters have received.
He said Moore Propane Ltd. and Budget Propane approached the town this year and offered to pay for some firefighters to receive the training at the Emergency Training Centre in Blythe, Ont.
The four-day training costs about $1,500 per person. Each company paid for two firefighters.
Two other firefighters, including Monahan, had completed the training a year earlier.
The leak in Baysville happened less than a week after the newly trained firefighters completed their course. Monahan said those who receive the training share their knowledge, which gives the entire department expert training on how to handle propane leaks, fires and explosions.
“If we could send everybody down there, we’d love to. But it’s an expensive venture,” he said. “For our training budget in Huntsville, we just can’t afford that.”
Monahan thanked the propane companies for funding the training.
He called the course intense but controlled.
“As soon as you hear ‘propane,’ you run scared. I got to admit, when I got down there that was the first thing I did. I was terrified,” said Monahan. “But they teach you how to deal with any type of propane emergency.”
Emergency scenarios tackled as part of the training include a tractor-trailer rollover, a forklift leak, a barbecue malfunction and a railcar accident. There is also classroom work where trainees learn about the properties of propane.
“Propane leaking out of a tank as a liquid or vapour is unpredictable, it needs an ignition source,” said Monahan. “If a propane tank is burning, those are the propane fires that we like because we know where the propane is. It’s being burnt. But the ones that are scary are the liquid and vapour leaks because it’s invisible and you’re searching for an ignition point.”
Propane expands to 270-times its size when released as a gas.
Fire crews contained the Baysville brewery leak with spraying a mist and moving toward the leak to stop the spread of vapours.
And although firefighters who receive propane emergency training remain cautious when dealing with propane fires and leaks, they do come out of the course with more confidence and knowledge, said Monahan.