First responders from Cumberland Trail Fire Department participated in the Responding to Oilfield Emergencies training workshops hosted by the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP)in September, October and November.
Lieutenants Steve Cupryk, Greg Probst and John Yemich with the Cumberland Trail Fire Department were among the 109 participants from 33 Ohio fire departments to learn how to respond to potential drilling and production site emergencies and other response resources over the two-day training workshop offered by OOGEEP.
OOGEEP created and implemented the nation's first Oilfield Emergency Response Training Program. Since 2000, well over 1,000 Ohio firefighters from around the state have participated in this training program, along with firefighters from seven other states.
"It's in OOGEEP's best interest to provide the training these first responders need to keep up with the demand due to increased drilling near Ohio's shale plays," said Rhonda Reda, executive director of OOGEEP. "Our members, Ohio's natural gas and crude oil companies, have a stake in protecting the communities where they are located and see the value investing in this topnotch training program."
The training course provides background information and practical guidelines to assist responders in communicating and evaluating a potential emergency site, and the ability to respond to both drilling and production emergencies. The hands-on training portion includes "live burns" utilizing both crude oil and natural gas props. The training program is funded 100% by Ohio's natural gas and crude oil operators.
"While there have been very few natural gas and crude oil emergencies in Ohio, often times fire departments are called to respond to non-emergency incidents simply because there is a lack of knowledge or unfamiliarity of equipment, standard practices and advanced technologies used by Ohio's industry," notes Charlie Dixon, lead fire instructor, and OOGEEP's safety and workforce administrator. "The fact is not all incidents reported are emergencies, and we hope that this program will mitigate those types of reported incidents that could tie up community resources that may be needed elsewhere."
Brent Gates, the New Concord Fire Chief, an Ohio Certified Fire Instructor and one of the instructors for the training adds, "This is by far one of the best training programs I have been involved in. The information and hands-on training we provide makes a difference to so many communities who are impacted by the development of oil and gas."
"Ohio's oil and gas industry has always committed to safety and we believe it is our responsibility to help educate Ohio's firefighters," said Eric Smith, OOGEEP's Board Chairman and an Ohio oil and gas operator. "In Ohio, we have drilled over 275,000 wells, and advanced technology will continue to make these operations safer and environmentally sound, while helping Ohio produce more of our own energy needs."
"It's really a service we are providing to the emergency responders, but it also significantly benefits local communities," explains Ron Grosjean, OOGEEP board member and chairman of the Firefighter Training Committee. "We want the public to be confident that both the industry and emergency responders are well trained."
The workshops are endorsed by the Ohio Fire Chief's Association, the Ohio Society of Fire Service Instructors and the Ohio Fire and Emergency Services Foundation. Upon completion of the training, each firefighter can also receive up to 12 CEU contact credit hours and an optional college graduate credit through Hocking College.
The mission of OOGEEP is to facilitate educational, scholarship, safety and training programs; to promote public awareness about the industry; and to demonstrate to the general public the environmental, energy and economic benefits of Ohio's independent natural gas and crude oil producers. OOGEEP is not funded with any taxpayer dollars.