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Flames exploded into the cool night air at the Cottonwood Training Center on Monday, April 9.

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By Trista Steers
Larson Newspapers
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Flames exploded into the cool night air at the Cottonwood Training Center on Monday, April 9.

Yavapai College Firefighter Certification Academy cadets suited up and prepared to battle one of their first blazes during a training exercise.

A residential propane tank and a metal tree ignited as instructors pumped propane from a distant tank.

Monday was the second night of propane-fueled fire exercises ending the cadets' first bout with live flame.

It's almost invigorating, Denver Hughes, a cadet sponsored by Sedona Fire District, said.

Hughes rode along with SFD crews in the past but the propane exercises were his first experience fighting fire.

"It's a thrill. It's scary. It's exciting," Cottonwood Fire Department Fire Marshall Rick Contreras said. While already a member of CFD, Contreras never received academy certification. He is now a cadet.

Propane does cause problems in the area, according to Ken Krebbs, instructor and SFD firefighter.

"Every year we run into propane emergencies at homes," Krebbs said. "You have to be able to function and do this safely and properly."

Breathing apparatuses intact and dressed in full uniform, cadets approached the fire using what is called a power core technique. This means two lines of cadets approach the fire with two hoses while the captain walks between them.

Two safety officers and a safety line — group of cadets waiting with a hose — supported the cadets battling the blaze.

Instructors taught crews a new spraying technique using fog patterns. Full fog, which is used when crews initially approach, means the hose sprays water as wide as possible.

As the water captures the flame, the fog pattern is modified to a concentrated spray, or modified fog.

Different types of fog patterns are used to direct flame away from the propane valve so a cadet can shut it off. The water pushes the flame away from the tank or tree and cadets.

"Typically, you [cadets] shouldn?t be hit by the flame at all," instructor and SFD Fire Inspector Sean Chartier said.

Propane burns are one of several burn exercises completed by cadets throughout the semester. Cadets will also participate in exercises in the burn house, car fires and an actual house fire before they graduate.

Contact Trista Steers at 282-7795, Ext. 129, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


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