CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - More than 1,000 Illinois firefighters and emergency personnel will be in Champaign-Urbana this week for the 79th annual Illinois Fire College, hosted by the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute.
The four-day training event begins at 9:15 a.m. Thursday at the Chancellor Hotel and Convention Center, 1501 S. Neil St., Champaign, with opening ceremonies and a keynote address by Carl Hawkinson, the Illinois governor's deputy chief of staff for public safety and the state's homeland security coordinator.
The fire college also will feature the first use of new equipment at the institute, a training prop that simulates what firefighters might encounter in the collapse of a multi-story office building. Fashioned after a similar model at Texas A&M University, the 30-foot-high structure contains such items as broken computers and office chairs, forcing firefighters to deal with obstacles as they investigate unstable confined spaces.
Speaking later on Thursday will be Chief John Norman of the New York City Fire Department. Norman was directly involved in the day-to-day operations following the World Trade Center tragedy on Sept. 11, 2001, as the senior adviser to the department's incident commander.
The Illinois Fire College is considered the oldest event of its kind in the United States. Various sessions will be held at the Chancellor, at the institute's 25-acre facility and at specialized training locations throughout Champaign-Urbana
The college helps prepare firefighters and first-responders through extensive hands-on training. Classes range from basic firefighting to confined-space and trench rescue, as well as officer-oriented classes for both volunteer and career firefighters. Three National Fire Academy classes are being offered to prepare first-responders for acts of terrorism.
The fire service institute is the statutory fire academy for the state of Illinois. In addition to training provided at the Champaign campus, the institute offers online classes and conducts and sponsors training throughout the state at regional training centers and local fire departments.
For more information about the fire college, contact Mary Auth at (217) 351-6373.