NWTC fire training coordinator discusses responding to home explosions

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The Waupaca County Sheriff's Office identified the man who died in a home explosion Sunday morning. Mark Zielke, 64, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The explosion happened near Manawa at the intersection of county Highway N and County Road T. Investigators haven’t determined a cause yet (see related story).

“Obviously when we’re responding to that explosion, it’s a high stress event,” said Jonathon Ladwig.

Ladwig didn’t respond to the home explosion in Manawa, but as Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s Fire Training Coordinator he tries to prepare others for those situations.

“We’re worried about the risk of secondary explosions and also, was the house occupied at that time,” said Ladwig. “That’s always a big concern because life safety is very important to what we do.”

Though protecting people is the number one priority, Ladwig says firefighters have to be extra cautious when responding, looking for things like gas leaks or possible live electrical wires.

Ladwig says there are a lot of different things that can cause a home explosion. But when firefighters respond to a call like that, they’ll usually bring a four-gas meter.

“This meter here monitors percent of oxygen in the atmosphere, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, and also reads for natural gas,” Ladwig said, showing us a handheld device.

Once firefighters have secured a scene, it’s up to a fire marshal and others to investigate the cause. Ladwig says first responders take great care to not hinder that investigation.

“We have to be very cautious that we don’t disturb the scene, because determining the cause of the leak, or whatever the cause of the explosion, can be difficult,” said Ladwig.

Ladwig and others in the first responder community have one common goal in mind in these situations.

“Hopefully we can find a cause and we can prevent it from happening in the future,” said Ladwig.

Read the original version of this article at www.wbay.com.