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Up, Up and Away – Plainville firefighters learn hot air balloon safety

Up, Up and Away – Plainville firefighters learn hot air balloon safety

Firefighters are used to fighting house fires, car fires, forest fires and just about any kind of fire.  And as first responders they also have to be prepared for almost any kind of emergency or special circumstance, from a natural catastrophe to a cat in a tree.

That’s why the Plainville Fire Department – the sponsor of the town’s annual Hot Air Balloon Festival – recently reported for some unique training at the fire station where members learned about hot air balloon safety.

For 32 years, the Plainville Fire Department has been the sole sponsor of the event which attracts tens of thousands of people as well as 20 to 30 hot air balloons.

Safety devices for balloons back to top

Fire Chief Kevin Toner cited a hot air balloon ride in Texas in August that struck power lines, fell and killed sixteen people and he said that “horrific” tragedy was on department members’ minds during the training.

“We’re hoping to familiarize ourselves with where the shutoffs are in the balloons, all the safety devices, how can we how can we eliminate a hazard very quickly and make a rescue if needed,” the Chief said.

Much of the training was provided by the hot air balloon pilots who participate in the festival and Chief Toner said that kind of hands-on experience will help his crew learn the ropes of hot air balloon safety.

The balloons use between 25 to 45 gallons of propane as fuel which burns around 1,000 degrees, making them a potential fire hazard in the event of an accident.

“When you pre-plan you’re ready if something happens,” said Jim Lenois, the Fire Department’s Safety Officer.