NEWS

Firefighters trained to handle emergencies

April 10, 2017

The Daily Jeffersonian. As the lead firefighter instructors of Ohio’s designated oil and gas emergency response training program, we were concerned with published comments from a statehouse press conference incorrectly alleging state law denies emergency responders important oil and gas chemical disclosure information.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP) has trained nearly 1,500 firefighters from 319 fire departments across Ohio, and seven other states, on oil and gas emergency safety protocols. While the industry is not required to provide or fund additional training or materials, they do, and have voluntarily funded millions of dollars into this specialized training program since 2001. In fact, Ohio became the first state to provide this firefighter training workshop at no cost to the taxpayers or to local fire departments.

The training program was developed in collaboration with safety experts from the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio fire service and Ohio’s oil and gas producers. The workshops combine modern firefighting protocols with oil field emergency response best practices. Making sure each firefighter knows how to obtain chemical disclosure information is just one important part of this training.

State and federal laws require extensive disclosure of chemical compounds at any place of business, or those materials shipped by car, truck, rail or pipeline. These requirements apply to oil and gas operations too, and always have. Firefighters are trained to cross reference chemical identification numbers on containers and placards with the USDOT Emergency Response Guidebook to determine the best course of action. In addition, all types of businesses, must maintain SDS (Safety Data Sheets) on a variety of materials. This is not exclusive to one business or industry. Additional resources are also available to emergency responders such as federal hazardous material online databases such as CAMEO and organizations like Chemtrec that provide firefighters with additional chemical disclosure and safety protocols.

Assertions that our firefighters lack the knowledge and expertise to address these emergencies are both false and disrespectful to these brave men and women that work hard to keep our communities safe. They regularly and successfully managed all types of potential hazardous materials emergencies in their communities because training and important chemical disclosure information is readily available to them. All fires and emergency incidents deserve to be treated with respect, including rare incidents involving the oil and gas industry. That respect, best shown through situational awareness and situational understanding, is being taught in Ohio, and as a result, our communities, our fire departments and local businesses are better for it.

Charlie Dixon, OOGEEP, Safety and Workforce Director
More than 39 years experience in emergency response, fire and EMS education
Retired Fire Captain/ Paramedic
State Certified Fire Instructor

Chief Brent Gates, New Concord Fire Department
Adjunct Instructor Ohio Fire Academy
More than 38 years experience in emergency response and fire education
State Certified Fire Instructor
President Southeast Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Association

 

By Charlie Dixon and Brent Gates

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