New program allows volunteer firefighters to train from home


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — There is a new incentive for volunteer firefighters to join the force.

The Basic Operations Firefighter course makes it possible for people to train from home. It’s a hybrid between online learning and hands-on training sessions at the Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI).

Since volunteer firefighters typically have full time jobs, this will make it easier for them to get certified. Plus, it won’t cost them anything. The Office of the State Fire Marshal is giving a grant to IFSI to pay for 50 firefighters to join this pilot program. Typically it costs $6,200 for each firefighter to go through training and get certified.

Eddie Bain with the Savoy Fire Department says, “It’s always a challenge to balance family, work, and volunteering. Most volunteers give greatly and the families often sacrifice as well.”

Many of them have to travel to their full time jobs and be on call for emergencies. The dedication starts before they even join the force.

Pesotum Assistant Fire Chief Dave Wisher says this new program is a game changer because “They can get all that textbook learning at their leisure, at home with the kids in another room.”

The course is 18 weeks long, allowing them to train online during the week.
There are nine weekend practical hands-on sessions at IFSI.

Bain says, “It’ll be extremely helpful. It’s not a replacement for all types of training, but certainly for the classroom portions.”

The pilot program starts on August 10, 2019. IFSI is looking to expand the program into other regions of the state. Right now they’re in the process of identifying other training sites.

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