Van Wert Fire Lieutenant/Paramedic Brian Ankney is pictured at the Van Wert Fire Department. (Photo submitted)
Van Wert Fire Lieutenant/Paramedic Brian Ankney is pictured at the Van Wert Fire Department. (Photo submitted)

VAN WERT – Brian Ankney, Van Wert Fire Department Lieutenant/Paramedic, is excited to begin instructing the Firefighting Training Program at Vantage’s Ohio Technical Center, which is set to launch later this month.

The first class is expected to give 10 people training in Volunteer Fire, Firefighter 1, and Firefighter 1 Transition courses.

“We do have quite a few instructors on board,” said Ankney, who noted that the ratio for class sizes must be one instructor for five students. “We’re in the process of getting a few more, which is great so that not just one or two instructors have to take the brunt of the work. Not only that, but the students get a broad spectrum of other people and their views and experiences, so I think it’s good for everybody.”

Candidates for the program will go through Workkeys testing, which is a skills assessment test that tests participants in several different areas. Candidates then must pass a physical. While the upcoming class is already full, Ankney said a waiting list has been started for the fall program.

“The fire charter allows us to teach certified fire classes so that people can get certified through the state of Ohio,” Ankney said. “We are chartered to teach the volunteer level which is a 36-hour maximum class set by law, the Firefighter 1 Transition, and the Firefighter 1 class.”

“There are two more levels; there’s a Firefighter 2 Transition and then a Firefighter 2,” continued Ankney. “We did not peruse those at this time because we weren’t sure that there was going to be the need for those levels in this area, but that is something we can acquire relatively easily if we see there is going to be a need.”

Some of the key differences between the volunteer training and the Firefighter 1 training is that Firefighter 1 training allows for interior firefighting while volunteers work on the exterior of a structure fire. Level 1 training is also the minimum training required for part-time work at a department while level 2 allows for full-time work.

Ankney said that the training at the OTC will focus heavily on the Firefighter 1 level which offers a broad spectrum of training.

“They are going to learn how to properly don their personal protective equipment and how to become proficient in that and comfortable in that because that is their main tool,” said Ankney. “They are going to learn the different skills of attacking a fire and how to keep themselves safe.”

Ankney said students will also learn about the construction of buildings and how to look for warning signs of what a structure might do during a fire. Students will also learn about ventilation, safety, ground ladders, forcible entry, and more.

Ankney has been an instructor for 29 years. On top of instructing at the OTC, Ankney is full-time firefighter at the Van Wert Fire Department where he has been for the past 18 years. Prior to that, he was a volunteer firefighter in Paulding.

“I always enjoyed teaching, and I still enjoy that aspect of it,” said Ankney. “I felt that this was the next step. This just seemed like a good fit for me at this time.”

As a firefighter, Ankney said he enjoys helping his community and neighbors.

“It’s different every day,” said Ankney. “You never know what the next call is going to be. I think that’s neat to try to teach people about that. The bonus is you do get to, hopefully, make people’s lives better. We usually don’t see people on their best days.”