On Friday March 7, 2014 at 11:09 AM, the Fairfield Fire Department was dispatched to a reported 100 pound propane tank leaking inside a house under construction on 797 High Street. The first unit arrived on scene and immediately heard the sound of leaking gas coming from the tank inside the structure. Firefighters met with the on scene contractor and verified all workers were outside of the house. Specialized gas detection meters carried on all fire apparatus were used by personnel and indicated that the inside of the building had significant levels of propane inside the building. Personnel quickly shut down the street and deployed a hose line as a precaution. Fairfield Police were requested to the scene to shut down local traffic. Combustible gas meters were used in the surrounding area to determine if there was a need to evacuate additional buildings however personnel were able to quickly slow down the leak to a level that did not require additional evacuations.
On duty members of the Fairfield Fire Department’s Hazardous Materials team were also on scene with specialized equipment known as a flare tower that allowed the department to perform a controlled burn of the remaining product in the tank to make it safe since the valve was damaged and could not be turned off. It took approximately 15 minutes to burn off the liquid propane.
Assistant Chief Scott Bisson stated that, “Using the propane flare tower, our HAZMAT technicians were able to quickly set up and burn off the flammable gas before the propane company even arrived on scene. This higher level of service provided by the Fairfield Fire Department HAZMAT team minimized the risk to area residents from the leaking tank, reduced the need to evacuate the surrounding buildings including a school and allowed the streets to be reopened in approximately 1 hour.”
The last fire unit left the scene at 12:26 PM. The Fairfield Fire Marshall’s office is reviewing the incident to ensure all local regulations were being followed by the propane company and contractor.