Training prepares firefighters for evolving emergencies on the road

South Trail Fire District vehicles. (Credit: WINK News)
South Trail Fire District vehicles. (Credit: WINK News)

When firefighters arrive onto severe scenes, every second count. These protectors need to be prepared with the latest information, especially now that cars use different types of fuel.

For firefighters, it is not uncommon to see flames shooting into the air and a car melting away from the heat. That is a scene Marc Mascarelli knows far too well.

Mascarelli, the Iona McGregor battalion chief, also knows how important staying up-to-date with technology and training is for everyone’s safety.

“Guys that have been in the service for 20 to 30 years assume they’ve seen everything. done everything,” Mascarelli said. “But not in this world. This is an ever-changing world with technology and electric cars that we need to keep up with.”

Chris Womock, a National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium instructor, taught firefighters from across Lee and Collier counties how to quickly identify what type of fuel comes from every kind of vehicle because while on any scene every second count.

“Were use to gasoline and diesel type of vehicles,” Womock said. “But now today there are a lot more vehicles out there running on different types of fuel systems like propane, liquefied natural gas, compressed natural gas.”

For instance, a firefighter should not put water on an ethanol fire because alcohol is lighter than water. It would make the fire spread wherever water goes. Instead, they would use fire fighting foam.

A BMW i8 and waste management truck use different fuels. Taking into account that the former also runs on electricity may alter strategy to cease the car from burning. Knowing how to respond can be the difference between life and death.

“It’s happening so fast in front of our eyes that we have to stay on top of it,” Womock said.

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