Dublin Villager

Into the inferno

Departments share training on plane crashes, propane blazes

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A part of an airplane and a large propane tank served as a classroom for Washington Township firefighters last week.

The fire department trains regularly and over three days last week added airplane crashes to the lineup of scenarios for which the firefighters are prepared.

The exercise provided training for 90 firefighters from Washington Township, Norwich Township and the Pleasant Valley fire departments, said John Nichols, Washington Township Fire Department training manager.

"It's all about the partnership," he said, adding Norwich Township aided in funding the training.

"Amerigas donated all the gas for this," Nichols said.

"If not for them this would be very difficult."

"We're more than willing to help the department out," said Brad Spearman, district general manager of the Plain City Amerigas office.

"It's good training and there are so many residents with propane."

The training exercise last week simulated a small plane that crashed into a country home with a large propane tank outside.

Firefighters put out a fire on the airplane and rescued a victim before turning to the propane tank that fueled another fire.

"In a plane crash situation it can be anywhere: an open field (or) apartments," Nichols said.

"It's different each time."

A plane crash would deal with jet fuel which "is not volatile like gas, but it burns like kerosene," Nichols said.

Washington Township and the other fire departments involved cover areas within the flight line of Ohio State University's Don Scott Airport and the final approach for Port Columbus, Nichols said.

"Over the past 20 years Washington Township, Pleasant Valley and Norwich Township have all had small air crashes of some type," he said.

Washington Township has never had to deal with a large plane crash, but Nichols said it's important to be prepared even if they're responding as part of a mutual aid agreement.

"It's about the time," he said. "It's important for us to be there."

Throwing a propane tank into the training added another element to which Washington Township firefighters are no strangers.

"There is propane in the rural areas, on the western edge of Washington Township," Nichols said, adding that few businesses and residences in Dublin use propane for power.

"We do have to deal with it and know how to deal with it."

Turning 90 firefighters through training last week kept Nichols busy, but knowing how to deal with various crises is part of the job, he said.

Washington Township firefighters get about three hours of training each day.

The job is also made easier when the fire departments know how to work together.

"We couldn't get individually this much training for any department," Nichols said.

"We're trying to share our training facility here ... . We're trying to make it a regional training area."

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