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Firefighters from New Concord, Bethesda and Barton recently completed an intensive Oilfield Emergency Response Training Program conducted by the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program.
Firefighters representing the New Concord Fire Department learned how to safely respond to potential, but rare, oil and natural gas emergency incidents. In total, 46 firefighters from 16 counties participated in the hands-on training program held at the Wayne County Regional Fire and Rescue Training Facility on Sept. 17-18 and Oct. 22-23.
“This program is invaluable for first responders,” said firefighter Rebecca Barkely of the New Concord Fire Department. “There was great classroom material and hands-on experience.” Barkley and fellow firefighter Rebecca Spencer thought the fire behavior labs were educational and fun.
“This is a growing industry, we need to be prepared,” said Captain Dustin Roe of the Bethesda Fire Department. “This is a great experience,” said Camri Druzin of the Barton Volunteer Fire Department. Both Roe and Druzin cited the classroom training and hands-on fire behavior labs as especially helpful.
During the two-day training program, firefighters learned field-tested tactics and procedures for combating potential drilling and production site incidents, evaluating oil and natural gas emergencies, and obtaining valuable site-specific information during an emergency.
More than 1,416 firefighters from across Ohio and seven other states have successfully completed the program, now in its fifteenth year.
The first day of the program focused on distinguishing between normal operations and true oil field emergencies. Classroom presentations provided an overview of Ohio’s oil and gas industry, including the processes and procedures used to develop these energy sources.
On day two, firefighters received intensive hands-on training utilizing the OOGEEP outdoor fire-behavior lab. The training site includes several pieces of oilfield equipment designed to allow firefighters to experience and respond to potential oilfield incidents. OOGEEP’s state-certified fire instructors assist firefighters at each of the hands-on stations.
“This information-packed and intensive two-day program emphasizes safety and best practices when firefighters engage oil and natural gas related operations,” said OOGEEP Executive Director Rhonda Reda. “Our state-certified instructors, many of whom are current or retired firefighters themselves, take pride in providing fellow emergency responders with this valuable safety information. It is because of our instructors that firefighters from across the nation look to OOGEEP’s training program as a highly regarded model.”
The OOGEEP training program and curriculum was developed as a collaborative effort between Ohio’s oil and gas industry, government regulators, firefighters and emergency response experts. The course meets national and state fire safety standards and attending firefighters can earn required CEU credits as well as an optional graduate credit.
It is endorsed by the Ohio Fire Chief’s Association, Ohio Society of Fire Service Instructors and Ohio Fire and Emergency Services Foundation, and funded entirely by Ohio’s oil and natural gas producers.