OOGEEP Trains 1,000 Firefighters for Oil & Gas Industry
The Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP) firefighter training program reached a milestone recently when it trained its 1,000th firefighter to respond to an oilfield emergency. Since 2000, firefighters from seven states have participated in the one-of-a-kind program which is funded entirely by revenues from Ohio’s oil and gas producers.
The training provides background information and practical guidelines to assist responders in communicating and evaluating a potential emergency site, and the capability to respond an unforeseen emergency. OOGEEP even provide hands-on training including “live burns” utilizing crude oil and natural gas props. One of the instructors for the program, Brent Gates, a Fire Chief and Ohio Certified Fire Instructor from New Concord, Ohio, explained the importance of hands-on training:
“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.”—Brent Gates
OOGEEP developed the training to prepare communities for possible emergencies and they believe the 13 year old program is part of the reason the state has a strong safety record in oil and natural gas production. OOGEEP’s executive director, Rhonda Reda, commented on the program’s success and how it could serve as a model for other states:
“Ohio citizens should be honored that many other energy producing regions have looked to Ohio as a model to set up similar safety programs in their respective states.”—Rhonda Reda
The training is endorsed by the Ohio Fire Chief’s Association, the Ohio Society of Fire Service Instructors and the Ohio Fire and Emergency Services Foundation. The program provides each firefighter the opportunity to receive up to 12 CEU credit hours and an optional college graduate credit through Hocking College upon completion.
Charlie Dixon, lead fire instructor and OOGEEP’s safety and workforce administrator, explained how the program can benefit individual communities:
“Ohio has always been a leader in developing safety programs. While there have been very few natural gas and crude oil emergencies in Ohio, often times fire departments are often 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. The fact is not all incidents reported are emergencies, and we are hopeful that this program will mitigate those types of reported incidents that could tie up community resources that may be needed elsewhere.”—Charlie Dixon
As Ohio’s oil and natural gas production increases its comforting knowing that innovative OOGEEP has already trained over 1,000 firefighters on how to handle unforeseen emergencies if they occur. While incidents in Ohio’s oil and gas fields are rare, it’s comforting knowing that if an event occurs that the most courageous among us are armed with the best strategies and approaches in tackling this situation.