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Crews learn industrial firefighting tactics at Helena training camp

Posted: 7:37 AM, Aug 07, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-07 09:37:04-04

HELENA — Crews battled flames near the Helena airport Tuesday, but there was little danger because the fire was set on purpose.

It's part of training hosted by Rocky Mountain Training Center and 406 Fire Training, LLC. Participants included firefighters from REC Silicon in Butte. The company processes chemicals and gases used in the silicon industry.

REC Silicon Emergency Coordinator Jim Murphy said the training is critical because it teaches firefighters how to manage a pressure fire, which behaves differently than other fires.

"Whenever you're dealing with pressurized gases, you can't just put the flame out,” Murphy explained. “You don't want to put the flame out. You want it to burn. So, we need to train our guys…to cool the vapor space to keep the thing from a what they call a bleve, which is an explosion."

Dave Mason with 406 Training, LLC said the training spans multiple days and is a unique offering for Montana. Mason said often industrial crews must travel out of state in order to obtain training on handling chemical fires, so having it available locally is an advantage.

While this week’s training is catered to REC Silicon, Mason said he also trains local fire departments as well.