‘We need to be prepared’: Iowa County firefighters battle flames in propane training

Fire Chief: Liquid propane use on rise

RIDGEWAY, Wis.- Many of us learn through experience, but for a firefighter who has to be ready for anything, realistic practice scenarios can be tough to come by.

When Iowa County fire departments got the chance for hands-on propane fire training Thursday, many jumped on the chance.

“We need to be prepared for every situation we come across,” Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Dept. Chief Joe Thomas said.

Training included scenarios with new props including a grill, forklift and bulk tank. Some flames shot about 20 feet or higher in the sky.

Thomas said this is the first such testing on such a large scale in the area in about 15 years.

”A lot of young guys have never been to actual gas propane training at all,” he said, adding that it’s happening at a time when liquid propane is getting more use.

“There’s getting to be more and more vehicles running two types of fuel up and down the road. Most all of our school buses in our local school system are all LP,” he said. ”Our county squad cars are all gas and LP.”

“People keep expanding out into the countryside. The use of propane is more prevalent than it’s ever been. This fits in with what’s happening out in the real world,” said Shawn Teska, a location manager with Premier Cooperative, which provided the propane for the training.

“It’s important to get the community and the local fire departments and municipalities trained up on an emergency in case one should arise,” Teska said. “It’s not a common occurrence, but if something does happen, it’s great to have these guys with the training.”

The value of the training is valued at around $4,000. It was also put on by the Wisconsin Propane Education & Research Council, of which Premier Cooperative is a member. It also participates in the propane industry check-off program, which provided funding for the training.

The hands-on training followed classroom instruction and was overseen by certified fire instructors as well as Fire LLC, a business that provides training support.