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City encourages regional fire department training

August 12, 2012
By ANGELINA DICKSON - Staff writer , Weirton Daily Times

WEIRTON - Finance Committee members voted on Tuesday to recommend approval to city council to financially support a regional training seminar for the Weirton Fire Department.

City council is set to review a resolution to enter into contract with Gasaway Consulting Group where the city's fire department will serve as the host department for the 18 mutual aid departments in the Hancock County Firefighters Association, Brooke County Firefighters Association, Brooke County Emergency Management Agency, Hanover Volunteer Fire Department and the city of Steubenville Fire Department.

Fire Chief Jerry Shumate said the cost of the training - $5,000 - will be split between each of the departments.

City Manager Valerie Means said the city will pay the $5,000 up front to cover the cost. She said there are verbal agreements in place right now that will be followed up by written agreements and invoices to ensure payment. She said the city agreed to make the payment up front on good faith.

"The goal is to provide ourselves and the departments we work with an opportunity to get a top grade national instructor and train together," said Shumate.

Finance Committee Chairman Fred Marsh said he liked the idea of having a regional training session once a quarter but would like to put some mechanics to it as far as the agreements to split the costs.

Shumate said the seminar will take place Sept. 8 and 9 in the Weirton Room at the Millsop Community Center. He said as the only career department in Brooke and Hancock Counties, he feels it is important for the Weirton Fire Department to take a leadership role in training with the mutual aide companies - something outlined in a recent study on the Weirton Fire Department.

The training class set for Sept. 8 and 9 will cover the mental management of emergencies to improve decision making under stress. Since the inception of the National Firefighter Near-Miss Reporting System in 2005, statistics show the leading contributing factors to near-miss events have not been related to equipment, procedures or training, but directly related to situational awareness and decision-making.

During the course of the program, training participants will learn: six ways decision making can be impacted by physical and mental stress; a seven-step process for how experts make decisions in high stress, dynamic, rapidly changing environments; four essential components to making decisions under stress; the role of pattern matching, mental modeling, sense-making and information chunking in decision making; and three levels of situation awareness, including how to develop and maintain each.

In addition, throughout the two-day training department members will also go over information outlining how situational awareness is impacted by staffing levels, communication issues, attention management, workload management, human factors, location of command support and aids, incident and organizational goals and mission; five common situations awareness mistakes that can have catastrophic outcomes and 10 best practices for developing and maintaining situation awareness in high-stress, high consequences situations.

Shumate said Rich Gasaway has served as a firefighter, paramedic, lieutenant, captain, assistant chief and fire chief in six fire and emergency medical services agencies in West Virginia over 30 years. He said Gasaway founded a consulting company to teach organization dedicated to improving how individuals, teams and organizations make decisions in stressful environments.

"We're looking forward to the class and providing the best training to our departments in order to better serve the public," said Shumate.

For more information on Gasaway or information regarding the classes being offered visit or

Weirton City Council will meet Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Weirton Municipal Building.

(Dickson can be contacted at

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