Violet Township firefighters last week underwent the latest training techniques designed to manage risk and enhance their health and safety while protecting the public.

Violet Township firefighters last week underwent the latest training techniques designed to manage risk and enhance their health and safety while protecting the public.

In conjunction with the International Association of Fire Chiefs' "2009 Fire/EMS Safety, Health and Survival Week," local firefighters were introduced to new and accepted practices for extinguishing blazes, saving lives and safe driving while responding to emergencies.

From June 14 to 20, firefighters participated in hands-on exercises and instructional presentations at the department's Station 592 headquarters on Refugee Road. The program also focused on the importance of fitness among firefighters and medics.

"We're going to talk about safety and emergency driving," Violet Township fire Chief John Eisel said at the outset of the week. "We're going to talk about health.

"It's targeted strictly to firefighters. It is all training-focused and targeted on safety."

Training topics included traveling at lower speeds when responding to emergencies, use of seat belts and intersection safety. Also covered were the importance of mastering tools and equipment used to fight fires and respond to emergencies, as well as maintaining awareness of the types of building materials and construction used in the community.

Firefighters also learned healthy eating habits, methods and exercises for maintaining a healthy weight and the need to get regular health screenings.

The Violet Township Fire Department currently has 45 full-time firefighters, 10 part-time personnel and 10 volunteers. Its coverage area consists of about 42 square miles and 35,000 people in the township and city of Pickerington, according to the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.

Eisel said "survival week" is an important opportunity to spread information to firefighters because they put their lives on the line to rescue those threatened by fires, traffic crashes and other emergency situations.

"The idea is to reduce in-the-line-of-duty injuries and in-the-line-of-duty deaths," he said. "These are nationwide initiatives.

"We've participated every year since it was developed."

According to its Web site, the International Association of Fire Chiefs represents the leadership of more than 1.2-million firefighters and emergency responders. Since 1873, the IAFC has provided a forum for its members to exchange ideas and uncover the latest products and services available to first responders.

nellis@thisweeknews.com