Brattleboro Firefighter Josh Jones holds a Blitzfire monitor that was donated to the Brattleboro Fire Department by FiberMark.(Domenic Poli/Reformer)
Brattleboro Firefighter Josh Jones holds a Blitzfire monitor that was donated to the Brattleboro Fire Department by FiberMark. (Domenic Poli/Reformer)
Friday August 9, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- FiberMark donated a new piece of equipment to the Brattleboro Fire Department on Monday as part of the permitting process for the paper office product manufacturer to switch from propane to natural gas.

Fire Chief Mike Bucossi and several of his firefighters were on hand for the donation of a Blitzfire monitor and to learn the ins and outs of how natural gas management will work at the company's facility on Wellington Road. A Blitzfire can be handled by one person and oscillates independently to battle fires in dangerous areas.

"It's certainly a generous donation by FiberMark," Bucossi said, mentioning that a Blitzfire costs about $4,000. "Not only will it help here in the case of an emergency but anytime we have a major event we certainly will use that.

"It certainly makes me feel good and that (has a ripple effect) down the department," he added. "FiberMark cares about not just their facility but the welfare of my staff and to provide us with something like that will certainly make the job much safer."

Gerry Myers, the vice president of operations and safety for NG Advantage, the Milton-based company that will supply the natural gas, explained to members of the Brattleboro Fire Department how the operation of transporting the gas will occur. About three or four tractor-trailers filled with gas will arrive at the Brattleboro facility every day and the gas will be drained into yellow tubing so it can be pumped into the building. Myers also showed the firefighters a decompression skid, which he said takes compressed gas and brings it to a pressure that can be burned.

Right next to the skid is a separate room, resembling a trailer that "provides heat because as gas decompresses, by science, it gets very, very cold and as it decompresses you've got to heat it," Myers said.

Robert Murphy, the director of engineering for FiberMark, said the natural gas will be used to process the company's office products, specifically to dry paper. He said the switch from propane to natural gas is being made because it will save money.

"It's a cheaper energy source for our company and we're not reliant on the fluctuating fuel oil prices," he said, adding that FiberMark employs 100 people at the Brattleboro location and 600 people in total.

Murphy said FiberMark has been working on the conversion to natural gas for about 10 months and the donation of the Blitzfire was part of the permitting process.

Myers said it took about four months to construct all the equipment associated with the operation of natural gas and FiberMark has operated with the new fuel source for roughly 30 days.

"It's not a lot different from a propane business but it is different because propane businesses would be filling a big, huge propane tank out here," he said.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.