WELLSBURG - From the classrooms of Brooke High School to local industries and vacant homes, hundreds of firefighters this weekend were trained for emergencies ranging from fires involving hazardous materials or meth labs to the rescue of injured hunters or all-terrain vehicle riders.
Instruction in responding to those and other scenarios were part of the curriculum for the Upper Ohio Valley Fire and Rescue School held Saturday and Sunday through a collaboration of the Hooverson Heights Volunteer Fire Department, Regional Educational Service Agency 6, Brooke County Board of Education, Wheeling-Nisshin Inc., West Virginia Division of Adult Education, A.V. Lauttamus Communications and the Brooke-Hancock Local Emergency Planning Commission.
In its 14th year, the school has drawn firefighters from throughout the Tri-State Area and many parts of West Virginia as well as more distant states.
TRAINING — Steubenville firefighter Porter Helsel instructed firefighters in the Upper Ohio Valley Fire and Rescue School Saturday in using a power saw to ventilate a burning structure by cutting into the roof. The two-day school utilized a vacant home on 26th Street in Wellsburg and other area locations to train firefighters in responding to various emergencies.
-- Warren Scott
The courses are aimed at firefighters of various experience, with some offering tips on leadership to commanding officers and others providing instruction in basic firefighting skills.
Outside a vacant home on 26th Street, Eric Keener, a Brooke County native now working as a firefighter in Columbus, asked students when a firefighter dispatched to a structure fire should begin to size up the situation.
One correctly answered as soon as the dispatcher provides the address.
Keener said firefighters familiar with their coverage area will know whether the structure is in a residential, commercial or mixed area and the relative age of the buildings there.
Capt. Adam Kins of the Wellsburg Fire Department explained the firefighters were participating in the school's basic firefighting course.
Led by Capt. Jerry Shumate of the Weirton Fire Department, it included five stations aimed at teaching proper methods for entry, search and rescue and fighting the fire.
Kins said the course stresses safety and teamwork, with firefighters instructed to check each other's gear before entering and enter the structure in teams.
Other hands-on experiences included "rescuing" a firefighter playing the part of an industrial worker trapped atop a silo at the Eagle Manufacturing plant, extricating the passengers of a vehicle that had "crashed into" the Wellsburg water treatment plant and entering the "smoke-filled" former Longhorn Restaurant and the apartments above it on Charles Street.
A past participant of the school, Kins said, "It's always helpful. I've taken the same course more than once because it often involves different scenarios."
(Scott can be contacted at email@example.com.)