CHAMPAIGN, III (WAND) - 116 first responders from Illinois, Iowa and Indiana traveled to Champaign for the 26th Annual Winter Fire Training Event at the Illinois Fire Service Institute. 

IFSI helps first responders train with highly skilled instructors to gain hands-on training for real world situations. The institute trains firefighters from all over the United States, so they can go back to their community with enhanced first responder skills. 

“We want them to not only be able to do their mission relative to their community, save lives and protect property. We want to be able to have them do it in a safe manner that protects themselves and their brother and sister firefighters on our left and their right.” Royal Mortenson, the Director of IFSI says tells WAND.

The 26th Annual Winter Fire Training Event brought in first responders from around the Midwest to better their skills. Most of the participants are Volunteer Firefighters from smaller counties. 

The firefighter programs Director, Tom Shubert, says, "They'll learn skills, first time skills, or veteran firefighters that have been on departments for a while to come down here and learn more advanced skills or hone the skills that they already have."

First responders take in classroom courses throughout the event and then apply that knowledge into their hands-on training. Classes such as saving a family from a burning home or forcing their way inside a locked door. "They can utilize their skills and hone their skills in that environment the same environment that they'll respond to, in their community,” Shubert says. 

Mortenson says volunteer firefighters do not usually get the training IFSI offers, saying, “they don't get opportunities to train on nationally recognized high end high skill training props like we have here."

Each year, IFSI trains over 60 thousand first responders. In 2020, the number dropped to 52 thousand because of COVID-19. But IFSI is hoping the numbers increase in 2021. 

IFSI Director says they want to keep fulfilling their mission, to "help firefighters do their work through training education information and research and all and everything that entails.”

Visit their website for more information on their events and programs.


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