By PUCO Office of Public Affairs
Through the PUCO’s annual hazardous materials training grant program, public safety and emergency services organizations, educational institutions and local government divisions across Ohio are awarded grants for training to best respond to hazardous materials incidents. Last year, the PUCO awarded $800,000 to 10 organizations.
Below, three recipients of the PUCO hazmat grants talk about their organization’s experience with the program.
Delaware County Office of Homeland Security and Management
The Delaware County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DCOHSEM) provides logistical and operational support for all municipalities and public safety entities in Delaware County. As part of its mission of preparedness, DCOHSEM often collaborates with the county’s hazardous materials team, known as Delaware Area Response Team (DART), to assist in development and coordination of training exercises.
“Our office works closely with DART staff to develop challenging training scenarios that will better prepare our first responders for incidents they may encounter,” explained DCOHSEM Officer Scott Stewart. “The 2020 PUCO hazmat grant permitted our office to acquire a Teletrix 4 Gas Meter Simulator kit that arrived just before the end of 2020. The kit is comprised of a simulated 4 gas meter and a controller unit that will permit instructors and exercise proctors to provide real-time air monitoring readings to the simulator.”
With the current gathering restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person training has been temporarily suspended. However, DCOSHEM is currently underway with planning for a full-scale exercise this summer where this new piece of equipment will add to the realism of the scenario. “We are excited to finally put the unit into a training situation and look forward to the feedback as to how we can continue improving our training to meet the needs of the community.
Training scenarios are most valuable when they can replicate real world conditions. Real time training scenarios using this simulator will enhance crew critical thinking skills and allow for more complex training scenarios. Additionally, the use of a 4 gas meter is one of the tenets of the HAZ-MAT IQ program methodology to which the team has been trained.
DART is comprised of 13 fire departments and other member agency across Delaware County and has over 350 members that will benefit from this training enhancement.
Cincinnati State Technical and Community College
Cincinnati State Technical and Community College has just finished celebrating its 50-year anniversary, and since 1993, has had a Center for HazMat, Rescue and Safety. The Center provides both public sector and private industry Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety training for organizations and individuals in the greater Cincinnati, northern Kentucky and southeastern Indiana area.
“Fiscal year 2020-2021 was our 24th year participating in the PUCO hazardous materials training grant program, and we are the second-largest recipient of PUCO hazardous materials training grant dollars,” according to the Center’s Colonel Robert Cutajar. "One hundred percent of our PUCO grant dollars are spent training Ohio public sector hazmat personnel in either 40-hour HAZWOPER initial qualification or hazmat annual refresher training."
This fiscal year, the Center for HazMat, Rescue and Safety have trained over 650 Ohio public sector personnel between early October 2020 and the end of March 2021. Cincinnati is the center of the midwestern U.S. major transportation hub—roads, rivers and railways—and the demand for hazardous materials training is ever-increasing in this part of Ohio.
“We’ve utilized 100% of our PUCO grant in just 6 months and the training that this grant enables is critical to the overall safety and security of all the people living in and traveling through southwestern Ohio,” added Cutajar.
All Hazards Training Center at the University of Findlay
The All Hazards Training Center at the University of Findlay has been providing hazmat emergency response training to public first responders since 1989. The center has been a PUCO grant recipient since 1996.
“Our main focus is on the volunteer firefighting departments across the state. Although Findlay All Hazards has one of the largest and best equipped fixed-base training facilities in this part of the country, we specialize in taking the training right to the client’s location,” explained All Hazards’ David Copus.
Copus continued, “Our instructors often deliver the training on weekends—whatever it takes to meet the requirements of the first responder units. The training materials are kept current with regulations, as well as industry standards and practices.”
Every instructor has practical, hands-on, real-world experience, and that translates into a keen ability to directly relate to the training audience, according to Copus. “The training that Findlay All Hazards provides to Ohio’s public first responders through this PUCO program helps keep them prepared and ready to respond to emergencies and incidents related to the transportation of hazardous materials. It is a safeguard against public harm to the local communities.”
The PUCO hazardous materials training grants application period for 2021 is now open. Click here for more details about the program and how to apply.