Hundreds of firefighters learn life-saving lessons

CHAMPAIGN--Hundreds of firefighters from departments across the state will report for duty in Champaign this weekend for lessons that could save lives when they return home.

"Most of the firefighters that are here this weekend come from volunteer and combination departments and small departments, low budgets, don't always get a lot of opportunities live-burn hands on training like we offer here," Royal Mortenson, director of the Illinois Fire Service Institute.

At the 91st annual Illinois Fire Service Institute's Fire College where 520 students from 183 departments will learn everything from putting out car fires to cutting victims out of cars. All from some of the most seasoned instructors in the state.

"Last year, we had two young lads come through, and a week later, they responded to a motor vehicle accident and they said that they had put half of the techniques to use and they were able to get the two victims out of the car in less than 20 minutes," said Joe Drennan a field staff instructor IFSI.

"[It's] some of the best training you can get in the world, I think," said Les Wankel, a volunteer firefighter at the Petersburg Rural Fire District.

The objective of this extensive exercise is for the firefighters to walk away with a good grasp on how to protect property and save lives in their communities.

"We hope they're just a little bit better, maybe a lot better, as firefighters," said Mortenson.

So when they get any kind of call, they'll be ready to respond.

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