More than 400 firefighters are training at Bowling Green State University this week for State Fire School. The firefighters represent 132 fire departments and brigades from Ohio and Michigan, as well as Ontario, Canada.
All firefighters at State Fire School can gain practical, hands-on training to take back to their communities, but many also are earning college credit toward a degree. Training activities include chopping holes in vacant buildings, sifting through charred remains for evidence of arson, and rappelling down the football stadium. Classes are taught by fire instructors, ranging from veteran instructors from Ohio, to those coming from Florida, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and New York.
Among the classes being offered:
Basic Fire Investigation – Fires are recreated in 10x10 pods and students will investigate the fire scenes for arson.
Basic and Advanced Rope Rescue – Students will be rappelling from the BGSU stadium and city of Bowling Green's water tower.
Fire Tactics – This is a live burn class taught by Toledo Firefighters in Bowling Green. This class is completely full and will be a large, house-fire scenario. Many of the students have never been exposed to a live fire-training scenario.
Street Smart Engine and Ladder Company Operations – Several structures, including two houses donated by BGSU and two large buildings donated by CVS Caremark, will be used to simulate search and ventilation trainings. These structures provide real-life experience learning about dangers of entering, rescuing and escaping structures.
Tactical Emergency Medicine - To address some of the recent threats to firefighters in the field, this new class was just introduced. Topics include the role of the tactical medicine provider, medical threat assessment and firearms use for a medic in the tactical environment.
"We welcome the public safety forces and are proud to provide the latest, valuable training in their ever-changing and dangerous profession," said Kerry Gonzalez, assistant director of State Fire School, which is annually coordinated by the BGSU University Outreach office.
CVS recently purchased the old armory and funeral home on Wooster Street. The business worked with BGSU and State Fire School to donate the buildings for use before their scheduled demolitions next week.
"Wooster Street in Bowling Green will be filled with firefighters and high-tech equipment as four vacant houses and two large old buildings are being used for truck company operations and firefighter survival training," said Gonzalez.
At a time when many fire department training budgets have been cut or eliminated, some firefighters are attending classes courtesy of grants from the Nationwide Foundation and other funding sources. Major sponsors of State Fire School include Paratech, Ohio CAT, Lion Total Care and Sutphen Corporation.