FIREFIGHTERS ARE a special breed of people. Volunteer firefighters take it to another level.
Eastern Ohio is home to numerous volunteer fire departments. Often times, they are the hub of their respective community.
However, many of those departments must battle number issues. Finding enough qualified and willing individuals is no easy task in smaller communities.
Moreover, receiving proper certification to fill the firefighting role may prove problematic because of costs involved, timing of training programs or both. With that being the case, the Ohio fire marshal's office is taking steps to remove such roadblocks.
The state office is now offering weekend training.
It is intended to help Ohio firefighters meet their state certification requirements. State officials also hope that the weekend classes will prove a convenient option, leading to a spike in volunteers members.
A pilot program to this effect was implemented a year ago. It has proven a popular option. The 36 hours of required training is now condensed into a two-weekend timetable.
The new hours proved so popular at this month's training a second session has been put in place for May. It is also filling up rapidly. With such demand, state officials plan to continue offering the weekend training twice a year.
Nearly three-quarters of the Buckeye State's fire departments are volunteer-driven. The free weekend-based program obviously helps fuel increased staffing for VFDs.
We are fortunate in Eastern Ohio to feature numerous skilled and passionate fire departments. The state fire marshal's office has ignited a convenient and cost-friendly way to keep volunteer fire departments well staffed.