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Published: Friday, 3/9/2007

Firefighters converging on Wood County for training

BOWLING GREEN - About 1,200 volunteer firefighters are expected to be in town this weekend for the annual fire school sponsored by the Northwestern Ohio Volunteer Firemen's Association.

Classes, which will be held at Bowling Green State University and at sites around Wood County, include such topics as responding to propane fires and conducting rescues from grain bins.

Ted Hagedorn, a first aid lieutenant with the Oregon Fire Department and chairman of the fire school, said firefighters from volunteer departments across Ohio and southeast Michigan may choose from 25 classes that will be offered in six-hour sessions tomorrow and Sunday.

The classes are offered free of charge, and the $8,000 cost of putting on the two-day school is covered by the sale of raffle tickets, he said. Many instructors donate their time or their employers cover their expenses.

"If we had 1,100 firefighters show up, and you divide that by the total cost of the school - all the expenses for the year - it comes out to about $9 a person," Mr. Hagedorn said. "That's pretty reasonable training."

The classes cover a variety of situations that firefighters are likely to encounter, including farm machinery accidents and fires involving chemicals and fuels that require the use of foam rather than water.

A popular class that's being repeated from last year will feature the Wood County Prosecutor's Office and drug task force talking about how to identify illegal methamphetamine labs and the dangers. Another course teaches firefighters about vehicle restraint systems and safe ways to extricate victims trapped inside.

While the state does not require volunteer firefighters to earn continuing education units, Mr. Hagedorn said the fire school does fulfill the firefighters' requirements for ongoing training.

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