Training Reimbursement Grants Provide Relief to Fire Services

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When the Covid-19 pandemic affected in 2020, Andrew Durniat had to temporarily close his fitness business in Wooster and look for another job.

The 43-year-old thought his strength training would work well with firefighting, and luckily he found work with the Loudonville Fire Departmenthelping him through the 13 weeks his gym was closed.

Having his training paid for by the department was an unexpected bonus that helped with the career transition to full-time firefighting, Durniat said.

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And receiving reimbursement for that training through a grant from the state fire marshal’s office has helped Loudonville and other Ohio fire departments recruit and retain staff.

Loudonville was one of 208 Ohio fire departments to receive 2022 Training Reimbursement Grants from the Ohio Department of Commerce's Division of State Fire Marshal.

“It’s wonderful that the State of Ohio is supporting its firefighters in this way,” Mike Carey, Loudonville Fire Chief noted. “It’s a direct grant that we can pass on to the community. It really benefits the community.”

Loudonville was one of 208 Ohio fire departments to receive 2022 training reimbursement grants totaling $456,743 from the State Fire Marshal’s Division of the Ohio Department of Commerce.

Sixteen other local departments in Ashland, Holmes and Wayne counties have received help, most of them small agencies that rely on volunteers and part-time employees.

Local Fire Departments Receiving 2002 Training Reimbursement Grants:

ASHLAND COUNTY

  • Loudonville Fire Department, $1,400
  • Mifflin Community Volunteer Fire Department, $2,700
  • Sullivan Fire and Rescue, $3,000

HOLMES COUNTY

  • East Holmes Fire and EMS, $900
  • Holmes Fire District No. 1, $2,100
  • Prairie Township Volunteer Fire Department, $900
  • West Holmes County Fire District, $3,900

WAYNE COUNTY

  • Apple Creek East Union Township Fire Department, $1,500
  • Central Fire District, $1,400
  • Chippewa Township Fire Department, $600
  • Kidron Volunteer Fire Department, $1,800
  • New Pittsburgh Fire Department, $3,000
  • Orrville Fire Department, $600
  • Paint Township Fire Department, $2,550
  • Rittman Fire Department, $2,000
  • South Central Fire District, $3,000
  • Township of Wooster Fire Department, $5,800

Training money pays to repay training from 2021

The new grants actually reimburse departments for training they paid for in 2021. For Durniat’s training last year at the Wayne County Regional Training Center near Apple Creek, Loudonville paid $1,800 and recovers $1,400 of that amount this year.

The money can also be used to recruit firefighters, which are in short supply these days.

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“We can tell recruits that we’re more than happy to pay for your education and help you build a career in firefighting,” said Carey, whose department will send two firefighters for fire training this year. .

Fire Program Director Phil Chupp speaks during a combined Fire 1 and Fire 2 course at the Wayne County Regional Training Center while Canaan Fire Chief Brandon Smith leads the class , listen.

State Fire Marshal’s Office Reimburses Departments Based on Criteria

According to a statement from the Office of the State Fire Marshal, grant recipients were chosen based on various criteria, including annual budget, annual number of fires and resident population served. The application period opens each December.

While all firefighters, career or volunteer, must have the same level of basic training for state certification, the money helps agencies move beyond the basics to more advanced, recognized training in the national scale.

This more advanced training is what the Wooster Township Fire Chief Dallas Terrell says primarily helps her department recruit and retain staff. Because they are reimbursed for required training through grants, fire departments are more likely to provide more specialized training that is not reimbursed by the state.

“We have taken advantage of (training grants) for many years and hopefully we can continue to do so for many more years,” said Terrell, whose department received $5,800 in reimbursement funds. “It’s extremely helpful for every small volunteer fire department in the state. Without this money, we potentially wouldn’t be able to complete this training.”

Training costs continue to rise as the number of hours required for firefighters to be certified is much higher today than 10 to 15 years ago, said fire department chief Jim Zimmerman. of Apple Creek East Union Township. The grants help keep highly trained personnel free of crippling surgeries, Zimmerman added.

For East Holmes Fire & EMS ($900 reimbursed), any type of grant helps it keep its operating costs lower and stay on a 2 million tax for 30 years, Chief John Schlabach said.

And for departments like New Pittsburg Fire and Rescue ($3,000 reimbursed) and the Orrville Fire Department ($600), the money saved is spent on other needed areas such as equipment and l turnout equipment.

When budgets get tight, training is often one of the first things to be cut.

The Canaan Township Fire Department had to scale back to essential training a few years ago because it would be largely reimbursed, Chief Brandon Smith said.

The Wayne County Training Center provides training to many local firefighters

While none of his staff are training as firefighters in 2021, Smith does have one taking a course this year at the Wayne County Training Center where he is the lead instructor. Ahead of his first class Wednesday night, Smith said the nine students from Wayne and Holmes counties will learn just about everything a firefighter needs to know.

This quilt inside the Wayne County Regional Training Center Education Center shows the Wayne County Fire Department.

The training he received last year at the Wayne County Regional Training Center – search and rescue for structural fires, firefighting tactics, etc. – was immediately useful in his daily life at the Loudonville fire department, Durniat said.

“Just having the confidence to tackle structural fires and seamlessly integrating with other departments,” he said, are some of the things he learned in the training. . “I appreciate everyone who has been part of my journey with this new career field.”

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