Propane marketers doing more for propane safety

August 1, 2001 By    

I take great pride in being a propane marketer. It’s not just a job for me, and, I suspect, not for other propane marketers either. That is why I want to tell you about one of the great new things we’ve done as an industry: the Propane Emergencies program.

As a vital part of our industry’s vision and continued commitment to propane safety, the National Propane Gas Association, with funding from the Propane Education & Research Council, worked with hazardous materials specialists Mike Hildebrand, Greg Noll and Mike Callan to create a comprehensive new training program for firefighters and emergency responders. This program was designed for members of the fire service needing information on how to safely handle propane and propane incidents. In fact, we’ve set an example for others to follow, and I can’t think of a more worthy use of our precious time and resources.

I was one of many industry members who felt we needed to do more for our communities to ensure the safe handling of propane. I helped assemble a Propane Emergencies team to create and develop a comprehensive training program three years ago.

Our initial goals were aggressive: a text for every fire department in America distributed free of charge; the same text for every propane company also distributed free of charge; an easy and accessible website for supplemental information; a thorough facilitator’s guide that included a video and computer slides to make program training easier; a marketing package to help our industry publicize Propane Emergencies; an advertising campaign targeting the fire service to introduce them to the curriculum, and much more.

You will be pleased to know that more than 65,000 texts and 5,000 facilitator’s guides have been distributed in the United States and worldwide. Over 7,000 people have visited our website, www.propanesafety.com. Firefighters from all corners of the country have sent us their thanks and gratitude for Propane Emergencies. Each week we hear stories of how the program is working out there in the field.

We recognize, however, success hinges not on printing and distributing program materials but in actual training. And we are doing just that.

For example, The Gas Company in Hawaii made it a priority to train every department on every island using Propane Emergencies. In North Carolina, the state fire marshal is using the program at all 75 firefighter training locations across the state. Marketers in Kentucky partnered with the state fire marshal to train all 6,000 firefighters — career and volunteer. In my neck of the woods, we do ongoing training at fire academies as well as local fire departments throughout the region, and the Minnesota Propane Gas Association hired a safety specialist to deliver Propane Emergencies to fire departments on a regular basis.

Every one of these examples, and there are hundreds more, exemplify our commitment to safety as an industry.

The crown jewel of the Propane Emergencies program is the Train the Trainer classes hosted across the country. The goal of this one-day course is to create a tier of trainers across the country that would take our message to the people who need it most. The first class was last June at the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute, in which 75 training directors from across the Middle Atlantic region were trained.

In October, Chuck Madison, executive director of Colorado PERC, hosted our second class with more than 100 attendees including government representatives, propane marketers and refiners, firefighters, trainers and members of private industry from seven states. I attended the third class in November in Jacksonville, Fla., where we had firefighters from across the state.

Finally, we held a Train the Trainer in Chicago last December aimed specifically at propane marketers. We had more than 75 people attending from across the country representing all aspects of our industry. Without a doubt, that single day in Chicago showed our customers, our communities and ourselves that safety isn’t just a creed we profess but, rather, a way of life.

So, as I look back, I see an industry that put its money and energy behind a program that saves lives and property. We demonstrated to our colleagues and neighbors that a successful training program can and will make a difference.

Resting on our laurels, however, is not what makes us leaders. Instead, we need to use these accomplishments as guideposts for the future. Join me and the rest of the Propane Emergencies team as we continue our successful Train the Trainer program, development of new program materials, website expansion, and delivery of our overall safety message.

In a January article on www.firefighter.com titled “HazMat and Industry Specific Training: A Niche to be Filled,” author Lars Skinner said, “Other organizations… would do well to follow the Propane Council’s example.” Our leadership in safety and training is why I look at this program with great pride — and so should you.

If you are interested in information about the Propane Emergencies program or would like to get involved in training, please contact Stuart Flatow at the Propane Council at 202.452-8975, via email at pe@propanecouncil.org, or visit the website at www.propanesafety.com.

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