Aircraft Fire Disaster Exercise Uses Propane

Propane is being used to help air force firefighters train for real-life aircraft disasters on military air bases. (image: starbulletin.com)

Liquid propane is being used to help the military emergency response personnel prepare for real-life aircraft crash disasters, ktxs.com reports.

Most military air bases in the US don’t allow jet fuel to be used in live burn training exercises, so propane is often used as a substitute.

But Dyess Air Force Base in Texas is one of five that permits duel-fuel fire training – a mix of jet fuel and propane – at its new $1.2 million fire training facility.

On Friday, the region’s firefighters and airbase emergency personnel came together to simulate their response to a burning aircraft crash in a spectacular training exercise. More than 500 gallons of jet fuel and liquid propane were dumped into and around a mock C-130 military aircraft and set on fire. An interior propane explosion was first ignited in the cockpit, followed by an exterior jet fuel explosion.

Dyess deputy fire chief Floyd Jones said firefighters were lucky to have the opportunity to prepare for “the unfortunate event we have an aircraft go down outside the base.”

“A lot of states don’t allow JP-8 (jet fuel) because of environmental reasons so they have to burn propane.”

And though propane is widely used in training exercises on air force bases and fire departments across the nation, jet fuel has many training advantages, reporternews.com reported.

“If they can’t put out a propane fire, the instructor flips a switch and turns off the flames,” Jones said. “With JP-8, there’s no turning it off. You have to put it out.”

Huge clouds of black smoke billowed from the mock air disaster as firefighters fought the blaze.

“This gives the firefighters the first opportunity to see what a fire looks like at a crash site and how to set up on a fire, how to lay a hand line down and how to get inside the air craft and rescue victims,” Jones said. “Not only does this training give our military an advantage, but also firefighters from other agencies in town.”

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