Oil and gas industry partners with Ohio’s first responders
December 17, 2019
The Columbus Dispatch – They train to protect our lives and our properties and for some Ohio firefighters, they also are trained for the rare occasion of responding to situations in an oil or natural gas field.
As Ohioans benefit from the dramatic growth of oil and natural gas production, it is important to know that safety standards and special instruction for first responders keeps pace with this growth. The Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program provides oil and gas field trainings for firefighters at no cost.
Local firefighters who attended in the Oilfield Emergency Response Training session in November included Chief Donald Warnock, Assistant Chief Don West and Zach Stillion of the Antrim Community Volunteer Fire Department; Assistant Chief Zachary Leasure and Kurt Smith of the Old Washington Volunteer Fire Department; and John Gordon, Chris Jackson and William Stranathan of the Pleasant City Volunteer Fire Department.
Chief Brent Gates of the New Concord Fire Department, serves as the lead fire instructor for OOGEEP’s Oilfield Emergency Response Training program, along with more than 15 state-certified instructors with more than 500 years of combined experience in the oil and gas industry and/or fire service.
“OOGEEP and our team of instructors offer a comprehensive training specific to Ohio’s growing energy industry,” Chief Gates said. “Participants not only learn hands-on response techniques, but they also learn about the industry itself, including how natural gas and oil are explored, drilled, produced and transported, and the importance of collaborating with the industry.
Chief Gates added that as Ohio’s natural gas and oil industry continues to expand, so will the commitment to safety and preparedness for firefighters. “The Oilfield Emergency Response Training program is unique in the nation and it continues to evolve as the industry grows and safety technologies advance,” he said.
During the multi-day training, participants experience classroom presentations, virtual reality tabletop exercises and live outdoor behavior labs. Trainings are held at the Wayne County Fire & Rescue Regional Training Facility in Apple Creek. To date, the program has provided training to more than 1,600 Ohio firefighters, as well as firefighters from seven other states.
“Ohio’s fire professionals have a tremendous resource with the OOGEEP field training program,” said Chief Jim Delman, Sunset Heights Fire Department in Belmont County. “The quality of this training is exceptional. Firefighters invest a significant amount of time and energy to improve their skills and grow their abilities for various situations. Oil and gas field emergencies are rare, but it is critical that firefighters know the special response techniques necessary.
“Opportunities such as the OOGEEP training program benefit not only the firefighter, but also their department, and the communities they serve,” Chief Delman added. “Once they are familiarized with the oil and gas industry, they more at ease knowing how to properly and safely address any situations that may arise.”
“The Oilfield Emergency Response Training program started 19 years ago,” said Rhonda Reda, OOGEEP executive director. “It was a pioneering effort that has grown into one of the nation’s premier emergency response programs. Ohio’s oil and gas producers are proud to offer this critical training at no cost to our emergency responders, and to support our fire professionals in a variety of ways.”
For more information on OOGEEP’s available programs for firefighters visit: https://www.oogeep.org/firefighters/.
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