West Virginia University held the first fire brigade competition Friday at the WVU Academy for Mine Training and Energy Technologies.
Three teams from Murray Energy competed from the Midwestern, Western and Eastern Divisions.
Miners from Utah, Illinois and Ohio came to participate in the three-part competition.
The teams were required to take a test, do an obstacle course and put out a fire in a mine simulator. Fire brigades, though, are not required by law. The miners who make up the brigades are all volunteers.
"If we did encounter a fire in our mine this is training above and beyond what the law requires. So to be able to participate in this kind of competition it just really sharpens our skills in the event that we ever did have a fire underground," said Michael Porter a miner from Utah American Energy West Ridge Line (Western Division).
The components of the competition tested the miners' thought process, stamina and decision making in a stressful situation. Traditionally, uncontrolled fires are the number one reason for fatalities in mines. This mine simulator is important because it helps prepare the fire brigades to find the fire and put it out quickly.
Joshua Caldwell, the Director of Mine Training and Energy Technologies at WVU said, "The better equipped we are, the better trained we are to respond in those situations the better chance everyone has. That we can save lives first, prevent fatalities, that we can save our places of business, have a place to work at and protect the equipment."
Each team averaged about ten miners. The winners received $1,000 each, the second place prize was $500 and the third place price was $250.
They hope to make this competition an annual event.