Firefighters and natural gas employees from across West Virginia and the region will learn how to safely fight natural gas industry fires thanks in large part to a donation from XTO Energy Inc.

We are excited about the partnership we have developed with West Virginia University Extension Service to deliver quality fire suppression training for the natural gas industry,said Vaughn O. Vennerberg II, XTO Energy Inc. president.XTO Energy is proud of its quality safety and training programs within our own company, and this program is an extension of that dedication.

XTO Energy Inc. is a domestic natural gas producer engaged in the acquisition, exploitation and development of quality, long-lived oil and natural gas properties in the United States. The company has an office in the Jane Lew industrial parkabout five miles from the WVU Extension Service State Fire Training Academy at WVU Jacksons Mill.

The gift will provide funding to purchase equipment and to pay for salaries and stipends, travel and any other expenses related to the development of a natural gas fire suppression program at the academy. WVU Extension Service will recognize XTO s generous donation by naming the academys conference room/library for the company.

This is an exciting time for West Virginia and for WVU Extension Service,said David E. Miller, associate provost and WVU Extension Service director.With growth in the natural gas industry in the state, we are thrilled to be able to build a program that will help keep those working in the natural gas industry safer.

Fire suppression training is critical to ensuring the well-being of workers throughout the state, said Murrey Loflin, director of the WVU Extension Service State Fire Training Academy.

The funding from XTO Energy, along with their continued help with building a well site fire module to conduct training, is critical to the development of quality training programs for the natural gas industry,Loflin said.

Fire training became part of the WVU Extension Service in 1974. In the last 20 years of the 20th century, WVU Fire Service Extension developed many new training courses, standardized curricula, introduced National Fire Academy courses, offered national qualification testing and certifications, and trained firefighters in regional schools and at the annual State Fire School, training more than 2,500 firefighters and first responders every year.

XTO s donation was made through the WVU Foundation, a private, nonprofit corporation that generates and provides support for WVU .