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Safety First

Alex Johnson of Upper Township Fire Department, left, and Austin Phillips of Harrison Fire Department in Gallipolis, right, compete in the firefighters’ challenge during the Public Fire Safety Day at Paul Porter Park in Coal Grove on Saturday. Jay Sherman, Coal Grove Fire Department captain, center, looks on.

Alex Johnson of Upper Township Fire Department, left, and Austin Phillips of Harrison Fire Department in Gallipolis, right, compete in the firefighters’ challenge during the Public Fire Safety Day at Paul Porter Park in Coal Grove on Saturday. Jay Sherman, Coal Grove Fire Department captain, center, looks on.

 

Coal Grove hosts public event

The theme of the day was saving lives, but for a short time, it was about winning.

“Come on Alex, step it up, let’s go,” J.D. Pancake, chief of the Upper Township Fire Department shouted.

Part of the Public Fire Safety Day in Coal Grove is a firefighters’ challenge where firefighters go head-to-head in a timed challenge to see who can get their turnout gear on the fastest.

Coal Grove firefighter Dane Haukedahl won last year’s event, the first person from Coal Grove’s department to win since the challenge began five years ago.

Coal Grove Chief Gary Sherman said prior to the event he was anxious to see if any other department could take the title.

Haukedahl is now a two-time champion so Sherman will have to wait another year.

“The event is hosted by Coal Grove and Upper Township fire departments,” Sherman said. “Many people don’t know it but Coal Grove and Upper Township respond to calls together automatically.”

In conjunction with fire prevention week and National Fire Safety Month, the safety day event offered free food, more than 300 door prizes, inflatables, vendors and even McGruff the Crime Dog.

Sherman says the event being free is important and since it is open to the general public, donations — either monetary contributions or door prizes — are vital to the event.

“Each year we go out and seek donations and our sponsors are awesome people,” Sherman said. “We never ask for a penny in return. We give away everything our sponsors give us.”

Festivities began with a parade through Coal Grove that ended at Paul Porter Park. Once at the park, the firefighters’ challenge, a firefighter relay race, a live mock car wreck extraction using the Jaws of Life with the theme “Don’t Text and Drive,” a live demonstration on how to extinguish a grease fire, a demonstration on the proper use of fire extinguishers, a kids’ firefighter challenge and a demonstration on putting out a burning Christmas tree were held.

The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio State Police, regular EMS and tactical EMS, Air Evac, community action and many other agencies were at the event handing out literature.