“You can observe a lot by just watching.” – Yogi Berra
by Eric G. Bachman – SOURCE: FireEngineering.com
On Monday December 29, 2003, the Intercourse Fire Company of Leacock Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, was dispatched to a building fire at a propane distribution facility. Multiple callers inundated the county 9-1-1 center with reports of a large explosion at the site. First-arriving fire units found a building demolished by an explosion and a sustained fire. Compounding the situation were multiple propane cylinders exposed to the intense heat and accountability of the facility employees. The exposed tanks ranged from 100-gallon portable cylinders to 30,000-gallon fixed bulk storage tanks.
The incident required the response of fire departments from two counties: 49 fire apparatus, including 12 engine companies and 22 mobile water tankers. The incident tested the incident command system, operations, and responders’ resources and provided valuable lessons learned that can be applied to many incident scenarios, not only those involving propane.