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Career, volunteer firefighters gather for 76th annual fire college

Becky Mabry, Assistant Editor
(217) 244-1072; mabry@illinois.edu

5/26/2000

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- About 1,000 career and volunteer firefighters from throughout Illinois will have the opportunity to learn new skills and techniques while sharing experience at the 76th annual Illinois Fire College June 1-4 at the University of Illinois.

The college is hosted each year by the Illinois Fire Service Institute, the state's fire academy, based at the UI.

General sessions and courses will take place at the Clarion Hotel and Convention Center, 1501 S. Neil St., Champaign, and at the IFSI Training Center, 11 Gerty Drive, Champaign.

"Train Today Perform Tomorrow" is the theme of this year's college, which kicks off with an opening assembly at 9:15 a.m. on June 1.

Lt. Gov. Corinne Wood, whom IFSI director Richard L. Jaehne describes as "an ardent spokesperson and supporter of the fire service," will give the opening address. James T. Joyce, a 34-year veteran of the Chicago Fire Department who was appointed fire commissioner in December 1999, will give the keynote speech.

Course offerings will cover a broad range of topics, including hands-on firefighting, fire investigation, rescue and emergency medical services. Several national fire academy courses also will be offered.

New this year will be a general session and subsequent 12-hour course called "Beyond the Paper and Plans -- The City of New Orleans Amtrak Train Wreck." The course will be taught by Chief Mike Harshbarger of the Bourbonnais Fire Department, and Capt. Steve Wilder of the Bradley Fire Department. Harshbarger and Wilder were among those who responded to the March 1999 incident, which occurred when a passenger train derailed in Bourbonnais. The wreckage caught fire and required local authorities to coordinate the rescue of 121 passengers.

Other non-traditional topics of instruction will include "How to Manage the Unforeseen: The Firefighter Funeral" and "Saving Our Own: Techniques for Firefighter Rescues."

"We have taught 'Saving Our Own' all over the United States, and firefighters have come here from all over to take the course," said IFSI associate director David F. Clark. "The course is paying real dividends. We are aware of eight firefighters in seven incidents in three states whose lives have been saved as a result of the course."

More information on the college and registration requirements is available on the Web at http://www.uiuc.edu/unit/IFSI/firecollege.html, or by calling (217) 333-3800.