POMEROY — Firefighters from 23 fire departments in six area counties participated in the 2015 Hocking Valley Regional Fire School hosted by the Meigs County Firefighters Association at Meigs High School.
The event took place Sept. 13.
More than 140 students attended the 55th annual school with 10 specialized classes to meet the needs of all departments. Twenty instructors from agencies such as the Ohio Fire Academy, Ohio Propane Energy Cooperative, Med-Flight, Dills Fire and Safety, United States Coast Guard, Middleport police and Meigs County Sheriff’s Office Clandestine Meth Lab Team, Little Hocking Volunteer Fire Department and Oak Grove Volunteer Fire Department taught various courses for students during the six hour session.
Firefighters were able to choose from six-hour classes such as the fire behavior lab, fire investigations, propane gas emergencies, auto extrication, pump operations/rural water movement and emergency vehicle operations. Students also could choose from two three-hour classes such as landing zone awareness, hybrid vehicle safety, meth lab safety/neutralization and water rescue/safety.
The morning started with the invocation by Racine Firefighter Tim Sands and the Pledge of Allegiance led by Middleport Fire Chief and 2015 Hocking Valley Regional Fire School Co-Chairman Jeff Darst.
Darst welcomed the crowd of firemen and thanked them for all that they are doing to help their communities. Darst then introduced the 2015 Hocking Valley Regional School honorary deans Howard Mullen, of the Pomeroy Fire Department, and Robert “Bob” Byer, retired member of the Middleport Fire Department and current Meigs County Emergency Management Agency director. Darst thanked Mullen and Byer for their contributions to the fire service in Meigs County while presenting each man a plaque from the members of the Meigs County Fire Association.
Darst then introduced Ohio State Fire Marshal Larry Flowers, who was the guest speaker for the opening ceremony. Flowers spoke about his appreciation for the volunteer fire service and grant funds that were available to departments for training and personal protective equipment through his agency. Flowers also congratulated the honorary deans for their distinguished service, noting that both men were starting their firefighting careers before he was born. Co-chairman Derek Miller, of the Pomeroy Fire Department, followed Flowers and welcomed the crowd before dismissing students to their classrooms.
During the classroom sessions and outside evolutions, firefighters were provided an opportunity to learn new techniques and methods. As outside evolutions continued, students practiced their newly taught skills under the watchful eye of instructors and other firemen on site, using equipment and materials provided by sponsors and instructors.
As the closing ceremony approached, students, instructors and other personnel assembled into the cafeteria for the closing ceremony. Darst thanked everyone for attending and working safely during the school. Miller echoed the thanks to the members of the planning committee, instructors and students for attending. He noted that while everything that was planned was important, without the students, events like the Hocking Valley Regional Fire School would not exist.
Miller also recognized the contributions of Tim Sands and Bryan and Cheri McCollum. Meigs County Firefighters Association President Jason Ridenour presented certificates to Darst and Miller, Tim Sands and Brody Davis for their work in putting the school together. Door prizes that were brought from participating departments were awarded to conclude the school.
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