Chevron teaches firefighters to fight gasoline & propane fires

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Dozens of Jackson County volunteer firefighters got a chance to experience what it's like to fight a gas or propane fire before actually facing one in an emergency situation. On Saturday, Chevron Refinery in Pascagoula set up a training scenario. Firefighters say it's an opportunity they appreciate.

The flames and the smoke were part of an exercise drill, but for some firefighters the blaze brought back memories of staring down real life tanker fires.

"It's a scary situation when you see a tanker truck on fire," said Chief Bill Clark with the Escatawpa Volunteer Fire Department. "There's so much that you have to think about. "

Chevron's own team of firefighters spent time teaching people who fight fires out in the community about the dangers of hydrocarbons. Company officials say the high number of gas stations and homes heated by propane tanks makes this type of training vital.

"These are pressurized fires. You have to isolate the fire and cut off the source of the hydrocarbon because water does not put out hydrocarbon fires," said Chief Ricky Conerly of the Chevron Refinery. "It's actually the isolating and shutting the fuel source off. So dealing with those different types of scenarios is imperative that these guys learn that in dealing with these types of fires. "

Tarzan Treadway is a volunteer for the Gulf Park Estates - St. Andrews Volunteer Fire Department.

"Especially for the volunteers like myself that maybe don't get to go up to the State Fire Academy to do it very often. They have a terrific facility here and I'm glad we got the chance to come out here," Treadway said.

Firefighters said they like knowing what to expect in a real emergency.

"They get to feel the heat," said Chief Clark.  "The loud noises, the hisses, the screaming of the gases escaping, and the large amount of smoke that it puts out. "

Chevron officials say fighting hydrocarbon fires is very different from house fires and knowing how to approach both could be what saves a firefighter's life.

Chevron officials say this is the first time the refinery has provided this training since 2002. All participants received a certificate.

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