CANONSBURG (KDKA) — Nearly 40 volunteer firefighters across the western Pennsylvania region have completed the Columbia Gas Safety School program, learning how to respond to natural gas emergencies and receiving $500 grants for their departments.

“Safety is important to our customers and is the foundation of our business,” said Jim Royal, Columbia Gas training integration specialist. “If there is a natural gas emergency, firefighters are typically the first responders on the scene, and Safety School gives them valuable skills to manage situations safely and to understand what to do and not to do.”

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During the program held on April 27, the participants completed three hours of classroom instruction on natural gas, its properties and the do’s and don’ts of responding to natural gas emergencies.

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The second half of the program had the participants go through three simulated scenarios at the training center’s out door Safety Town mock neighborhood, including reports of natural gas odor or possible carbon monoxide poisoning. They also learned how to best respond to these reports.

“By using Safety Town, participants got to experience as close as possible what an actual emergency situation would be like and how they should respond,” said Chris Kobbe, Columbia Gas technical trainer and a volunteer firefighter himself. “The training center was an excellent venue to provide first responders with training they would not be able to get anywhere else.”

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As part of the Safety School program, each organization that had members complete the course will receive a $500 grant from Columbia Gas.