From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS More than 350 firefighters will arrive at Bowling Green State University to sharpen their skills in technical rescue, practice ventilation and search in vacant buildings, recognize and preserve arson scenarios, perfect their fire officer skills and learn life-saving techniques to save themselves or fellow firefighters as part of the weeklong State Fire School scheduled May 20-24. “As always, State Fire School week is an exciting time for this community and we pride ourselves on providing the most up-to-date training in this fast-paced and dangerous environment,” said Kerry Fisher, program director of State Fire School in the College of Arts and Sciences. State Fire School has been under the direction of BGSU since 1974. “Our unique training environment gives students the opportunity to network with first responders from all over Ohio and learn from the best instructors in the country,” Fisher said. “The hands-on training at BGSU exposes students to firefighting and technical rescue scenarios that may save a life in their community. After an intense week of training, we encourage them to take their knowledge and expertise back to their communities and train other firefighters.” Fire School is made possible by not only eager students from all over the state, but also local fire departments who donate equipment, time and supplies for hands-on classes. This year, the school is receiving support from Bowling Green, Toledo, Maumee, Sylvania Township, Perrysburg Township and Oregon fire departments. BGSU State Fire School employs an elite group of instructors from eight states, including Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and New York, and one instructor from Canada, to instruct a variety of cutting-edge classes. At a time when many fire department training budgets have been cut or eliminated, some firefighters are attending classes courtesy of grants from the State Farm Foundation and other funding sources. Major sponsors of State Fire School include Paratech, Tuff Tread and Sutphen Corporation. The opening ceremony will take place at 8 a.m. Monday, May 20, in Olscamp Hall. Speakers include BGSU President Rodney Rogers, Bowling Green Mayor Richard Edwards and Bowling Green Fire Chief William Moorman. The ceremony will open with the presenting of the colors by fire science students from Penta Career Center and Black Swamp Pipes and Drums. Hands-on classes offered: Rope Rescue – Students will practice rope rescue scenarios by rappelling from the BGSU stadium.May 21-23, Doyt Perry StadiumStreet Smart…Read More
Bowling Green Fire Division responded to a fire in the Woodbridge manufacturing park, off Dunbridge Road on Feb. 24, shortly after noon. The fire at Vehtek had been extinguished by the sprinkler system when the firefighters arrived. The workers had been evacuated. There were no injuries and the building was not damaged, Fire Chief Bill Moorman said. However, the fire destroyed a large compressor system that supplied air to a lot of the manufacturing equipment, Moorman said. Middleton Township Fire Department assisted at the scene.
By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Three Bowling Green police officers and one firefighter were promoted into leadership positions Tuesday evening. “Sometimes we get lost in the numbers,” of running a city and managing budgets, Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter said to City Council members on Tuesday. But the swearing in ceremony for police and fire, she said, provide a connection between the city budget and the people who fill vital roles in the community. “We’re very proud of all of you. Congratulations,” Tretter said. Promoted in the police division were Lt. Mike Bengela, Sgt. Adam Skaff and Sgt. Brian Houser. “They have gone above and beyond the call in so many ways,” Police Chief Tony Hetrick said. “These are the kind of people we look to” for filling leadership roles. Fire Chief Bill Moorman congratulates Tony and Sarah Zmarzly. Tony was promoted to rank of lieutenant at City Council meeting. In the fire division, Tony Zmarzly was sworn in as lieutenant. Fire Chief Bill Moorman praised his service, and recognized the firefighters who filled the back of the council chambers to honor their fellow firefighter’s promotion. Also at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the new branding initiative for the city was unveiled by Wendy Chambers, executive director of the Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau. The new branding is intended to reflect the city’s energy. “This city is not sleepy. It’s engaged, accepting and hungry for smart growth,” Chambers said. Bowling Green is not what many people think, she added. “We’re better, cooler and more progressive,” Chambers said. Bowling Green is a small city with a big city mentality, she added. The city welcomes diversity, is open-minded, offers a kaleidoscope of activity and is eco-minded. Part of BG branding initiative The new branding effort is intended to show that this is not the other Bowling Green – in Kentucky. “Bowling Green has the guts to break barriers and the heart to bring others with them,” Chambers said. In addition to pushing the message on social media, the Convention and Visitors Bureau plans to look into a series of wearables and branded merchandise, she said. “We can all be walking billboards,” for the community, Chambers said. “We all need to work together to spread the word.” Council member Bruce Jeffers said the branding proposal was “really impressive.” Council member Sandy Rowland said the effort captures the community. “It does a good…
By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News It was the worst of combinations for firefighters – the polar vortex, an aerial fire truck, and freezing water – lots of it. Bowling Green Fire Division spent much of the afternoon in sub-zero temperatures trying to extinguish a silo fire on Gallier Road, a dirt road northeast of the city. “It was not a good scene,” Bowling Green Fire Chief Bill Moorman said as he thawed out after crews returned to the station. “It was the worst situation you could have” as far as weather conditions. The silo fire was noticed in the afternoon when smoke was spotted coming from the concrete structure. Center Township Fire Department responded and called BG Fire Division for its aerial ladder and firefighters, as well as equipment and manpower from Pemberville Fire Department. The silo hadn’t been used for years, but was full of corn silage. “We have no idea how it started,” Moorman said. The aerial ladder attacked the fire from above, but the fire appeared to be simmering deep in the center of the silage, Moorman said. The silo was not worth saving, but the building nearby was at risk. “Right next to it was a barn full of cattle,” he said. After about three hours of trying to extinguish the fire, the three fire chiefs on the scene decided that efforts to put out the fire should halt until conditions improved. The crews were having difficulty with equipment freezing and were close to having to call in warm reinforcements, Moorman said. “The fire was not going to go anywhere,” he said. Arrangements were made to evacuate the cattle to other barns in the area. The crews will return soon – “but hopefully it’s not tonight,” Moorman said. The chiefs were concerned about injuries if they continued in the cold. “That was part of the reason we stopped,” Moorman said. “It was very unpredictable. The conditions were brutal.” And the risks were greater than the benefits, the chief said. “Why risk injuries?” “They were very cold,” Moorman said of his firefighters. “Everyone was happy to stop the operation.”
By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green is trying to prepare now for a rash of retirements expected to hit the city’s police and fire divisions in a couple years. Nearly 25 years ago, city voters passed a couple safety levies – allowing the city to add staff to both the fire and police divisions. The additional staffing was viewed as a necessity to community safety. But now many of the police officers and firefighters filling positions created after the levies passed are nearing retirement – all at once. The city will fill the vacancies, but it will take some planning by the police and fire divisions, Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter said last Saturday during a strategic planning session held for City Council. The police division could see six to eight retirements in 2021, Police Chief Tony Hetrick said. “That will open the floodgates,” Hetrick said of the 25-year mark in 2021. The fire division is facing the retirement of four officers this year, and as many as 20 retirements over the next fire years, Fire Chief Bill Moorman said. Bowling Green now requires all its firefighters to also be paramedics. “Finding good, quality candidates to fill those positions is more difficult,” Moorman said. “We’ve got some challenges.” Council member Sandy Rowland asked if the city’s pay scale for firefighters is high enough to help attract people to come from other fire departments in the region. Moorman said the Bowling Green firefighter pay scale is about average for the region. Council President Mike Aspacher asked Hetrick if efforts are being made to add some diversity in hires to the police division. “We are unrepresented in minority hires,” Hetrick agreed. To help remedy that, the chief said the next recruitment effort may be expanded to a statewide and national search. Hetrick said he is considering contracting with a firm that tests nationally for new hires. “Hopefully that bumps up our interest,” the chief said.
By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News A man who set himself and his rental home on fire in Bowling Green was sentenced Thursday in Wood County Common Pleas Court. Thomas M. Imondi, 55, now living in Jerry City, was ordered to register as an arson offender for the rest of his life. He was ordered to pay restitution, spend 180 days with electronic home monitoring, serve 300 hours of community work, and have no contact with the owner of the home he set on fire. Judge Reeve Kelsey told Imondi if he failed to comply, the court reserves the right to impose a total prison sentence of nine years. Imondi accepted a plea deal for aggravated arson and forgery charges involving failure to pay rent for about nine months. He admitted to purposely setting himself and his rental home at 921 Sunset Drive on fire in the early morning hours of June 9, 2017. Initially, Imondi told police someone had set him and his home on fire. He told police he heard someone outside his residence and as he looked out the window, the person threw an accelerant on him then lit the bedroom and him on fire. Some of Imondi’s clothing caught fire. Imondi reportedly suffered minor chest burns and had singed eyebrows. The state fire marshal’s office and arson investigators were called in. Based on the evidence and interviews with Imondi, he was charged with arson. Imondi was the only person inside the home at the time, officials said. During his statement to the court on Thursday, Imondi listed several items he considered as contributing factors to his actions. Among them were suspected PTSD, a large dose of Ambien taken the night of the arson, and his rumination on his big brother being a “closeted arsonist” and his parents being cremated. Imondi said he believed the arson was a “suicide attempt.” But the owner of the home, Melissa Shaffer, said she had heard enough of his stories. She could not be present at the sentencing, but wrote a letter that was read aloud by Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Dave Romaker. Shaffer said Imondi had tried to explain away his crimes with “elaborate stories or lies.” She considered him guilty of “scamming” her by failing to pay rent for nine months and making up “elaborate false excuses.” The arson left Shaffer homeless, since Imondi was supposed to be moving…
By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The teachers were told the gunshots would be blanks. They knew the students screaming for help in the hallways were acting. And they had been prepared for the “shooters” trying to barge into their classrooms. But when the gunfire began, the adrenaline started pumping. “We could hear the shooting,” said Mary Lou Zweibel, Conneaut music teacher, who was barricaded in a classroom on the second floor of Bowling Green High School on Friday. Occasionally, someone in the classroom would peek out the window on the door to see if the coast was clear. “We could hear a person crying for help,” Zweibel said. “We decided to stay put.” Others took their chance running for the door. Science teacher Paula Williams put “the boot” mechanism in the classroom door to keep out intruders. She and others then moved tables to further block the door and covered the windows that could be seen from the glass hallway in the high school. “When we knew they were on the second floor, we exited through the custodian’s exit,” Williams said. Williams’ classroom made it out safely, but some drama club students with fake blood stains were strewn across the hallway on the second floor where one of the “gunmen” took a hostage. Officer Robin Short talks to drama students who volunteered to be in the shooter scenario. The active shooting exercise that took months to plan was over in less than an hour. But those participating learned how time seemed to move agonizingly slowly as they waited to be rescued. After it was over, one of the teachers asked how long the drill had lasted – it seemed like three hours. It was more like 45 minutes. “I know it felt like a long time,” Bowling Green Police Officer Robin Short said to district’s entire staff who participated in the exercise held just as winter break was to begin. The school faculty and staff were not the only ones tested on Friday. This was also a drill for Bowling Green police and fire divisions, who were not told of the scenario details planned by Police Sgt. Mike Bengela. And it was a chance for 30 drama students to test out their fake blood, try to escape or find hiding places throughout the school. The scenario went like this: Two shooters entered the high school at 11:07 a.m….