Wednesday, February 24, 2010

CERT In Action!

Yamhill County, Ore., CERT Members Extinguish Fire at County Fair
Two Yamhill County, Ore., CERT members in the right place at the right time helped prevent a major emergency at the Yamhill County Fair and Rodeo in July 2009. A propane bottle in one of the concession booths sprang a leak, causing propane vapors to pool, ignite, and explode. The bottle then fell on its side, making it more difficult to control the flames.

Two CERT members, on a break from duties at the exit gate, immediately leaped into action. One member called 911 while the other began using an extinguisher to quench the fire. With the help of the vendor’s brother and another fair attendee, they were able to fully extinguish the fire and prevent it from spreading.

“Together, this collection of men who chose to act rather than watch saved the situation from becoming something much more serious,” said Doug McGillivray, emergency manager for Yamhill County.

The explosion and subsequent fire damaged a rear corner of the booth and a large portion of the supplies used by the vendor, and destroyed much of the booth next to it. However, the men were able to stop the fire before it spread to other propane tanks nearby.

“If the fire had not been extinguished quickly, there was a risk of one or more of the tanks exploding, and this is one of the great concerns for firefighters — the explosion of a pressure vessel containing flammable material,” said McGillivray. “A potential major emergency was averted by quick thinking.”

Incidentally, the members recently completed the CERT course on proper fire extinguisher use. One of the men remarked that it was just like he was taught in class: A slow and methodical approach using proper techniques works well.

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