Selfies: Local fire crews train to battle natural gas flames | PostIndependent.com

Selfies: Local fire crews train to battle natural gas flames

Black Hills Energy conducted a natural gas safety training for firefighters and other emergency responders from Glenwood Springs and the surrounding areas last Thursday evening. An estimated 50 crew members from Glenwood Springs to Aspen took part in the fire demonstration.

The training allowed firefighters to practice how to safely and effectively contain and extinguish natural gas fires, including simulated pipeline punctures and a controlled fire enveloping an automobile to represent a vehicle striking an above-ground natural gas fixture.

"The best way to learn the traits of natural gas and gain experience in fighting a natural gas fire is during a training exercise like this," said Black Hills Community Relations Manager Carly West.

Black Hills conducts two trainings in each of the six states where it operates. The trainings in Colorado this year were both on the Western Slope and took place in Glenwood Springs and Montrose.

Training locations are prioritized by where recent trainings have been and where there is a need for future trainings. Organizers also evaluate whether a region has a location with sufficient space and natural gas pressure that can be utilized to host the exercises.

Purple K is a specialized dry chemical agent for fighting Class B fires, involving flammable liquids and gasses, and Class C fires that involve energized electrical equipment. The agent is used by both Black Hills and local fire agencies to exclude oxygen from the fire.

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When arriving on scene crews have to make the decision to either extinguish or contain a natural gas fire. If the fire is not a danger to life or property, the goal is to contain it until the gas flow can by stopped, rather than extinguish. As long as the fire is lit, the gas is being burned rather than escaping with the potential to ignite another point.

"We work closely with emergency responders in our communities," West said. "This training is another way we encourage and develop the close ties and teamwork it takes to successfully manage a natural gas incident."

All photos and video by PI staff photographer Chelsea Self. cself@postindependent.com