CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The Illinois Fire Service Institute started its Explorer-Cadet fire training Thursday afternoon.

This year is the first year since 2019 they are able to train for a full four days. The training these explorer-cadets get will prepare them for a future in firefighting.

Something Champaign Fire Explorer-Cadet Ryan Latz said he feels like he was born to do.

“It’s just a rewarding job you can help other people and I find it to be a lot of fun I enjoy fighting fires,” Latz said. “I also enjoy helping other people.”

Latz said he wants to keep the firefighting spirit in his family.

“My dad was a firefighter for 20 years for the City of Champaign, and I’ve always wanted to follow in his footsteps,” Latz said.

Latz said the unique experience at the state-of-the-art training center in Champaign is only making him more excited to do that.

“I enjoy it very much,” Latz said. “I love going in, usually on a hose crew is my favorite. Any time I get to go into a fire I enjoy it.

A supervisor for the Addison Fire Protection District said it’s important for these future firefighters to get hands-on experience.

“This is something that is really priceless; we can not do this back home in Addison because we get to do live fire training,” said Addison firefighter Roger Bane Jr. “This is something that’s going to let them know this is what I want to do for the rest of my life or not.”

Bane said he wouldn’t be a firefighter today if it weren’t for the explorer-cadet school.

“This is how I started,” Bane recalled. “And I started coming to the institute when I was 17 as a cadet. So my way to give back to the youth is to guide them through the process.”

It’s a fire that spread to his daughter.

“I’m lucky to be a second-generation firefighter,” Bane said. “My dad was a firefighter, he came through the institute. I came through the institute and I also had my daughter come through the institute. So this is very personal to me.”

The training will help these young adults decide if they want to pursue a career in fighting fires.