CADIZ -- The 10th annual Ohio Mine Safety Competition was held at the Cadiz Mine Safety training facility in Harrison County with 10 mine rescue teams participating in the event, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Mine rescue teams are comprised of six members from each competing mine. The teams must train a minimum of 96 hours per year.

The training is conducted by the ODNR Division of Mineral Resources Management mine safety staff, which helps prepare the teams to respond to mine emergencies, such as underground fires, explosions, entrapments or roof failures.

A new mine safety training simulator building was recently constructed on the site, complete with smoke-filled rooms and able to train 3,000 miners each year.

ODNR's mine safety training program also maintains three strategically located mine rescue stations in the state to provide and service all necessary equipment the teams will need when responding to a mine emergency.

"These mine safety competitions ensure that Ohio's mine rescue teams receive their mandatory training, and it will also ensures training for teams from our neighboring states," said ODNR Director James Zehringer. "Hosting more competitions will not only provide us with an opportunity to train more miners, but it will ideally give a boost to the local economy, encouraging more people to visit this beautiful part of the state."

Mine rescue teams work problems in multiple events, such as first aid, fire hose use, breathing apparatus maintenance and team rescue procedures, where the team works a problem in a simulated mine in under an hour.

Prior to competing in rescue procedures, the teams are placed in a 'lock-up' situation so that each team is totally unaware of the problem they are about to encounter. Judges for the event were provided by the Mine Safety and Health Administration, and the states of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky.

The mine safety training program works diligently to improve health and safety conditions at Ohio's coal and industrial mineral mines.

In an effort to reduce accidents, fatalities and mining-related illnesses, Ohio miners and contractors are trained to recognize and respond to safety and health hazards.

Combining annual competitions with skills training ensures that the best safety crews are honored, and it also allows all teams participating to continue to improve their rescue skills and abilities. These competitions are now a required part of mine rescue team certifications nationwide.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all.

Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.