OFPD recruits given rigorous training in emergency fire simulations
Ten fire recruits hired to fill newly created staff vacancies are working through an intensive training course learning the latest in fire fighting and emergency services strategies in a training academy program sponsored by the Orland Fire Protection District.
The new firefighters will not only fill vacancies but also eliminate overtime burdens on the Orland Fire Protection District’s firefighters who often have to fill positions with extra work duties.
OFPD Fire Chief Ken Brucki joined with his key training team leadership at a public demonstration of the rigorous training new recruits receive. Leading the training for the OFPD are Lt. David Piper, the Training & Safety Officer, and Mike Seifert and Carl Jones, both firefighters and graduates of the district’s training academy program.
“We have been providing this intense training now for several years,” Brucki said as the training session began Friday at the Fire District’s Training Center at 10728 West 163rd Place in Orland Park.
“We use what we have learned and work with the new recruits to ensure they have the same level of competency in fighting fires and providing emergency services.”
Brucki said the district’s 10 new firefighter trainees are evaluated in a variety of fire and emergency simulations including fighting fires, rescue and equipment management. Every OFPD recruit must be professionally trained both as a firefighter and as a paramedic.
“The recruits train 8 hours every day. Their day begins with a regimented exercise program to help eliminate injuries caused by muscle strains & sprains, which is one of the most frequent injuries firefighters experience,” Piper said as the recruits warmed up Friday morning at the Pro Sports Performance gym, 10649 163rd Place in Orland Park, located one block east of the OFPD Training Center.
Piper said the one-hour initial exercise program at Pro Sports Performance helps the recruits prepare for the physical stress involved in carrying and moving large equipment at emergency scenarios
“After that, we put them through a series of fire scenarios to build up their experience and knowledge on how to fight fires and provide emergency services during emergency situations.”
The 10 recruits were hired on May 9 and officially entered the training academy on May 12. Their probation period includes nine weeks of hands-on training followed by assignment to a fire station, ending with graduation one year later on May 9, 2015.
Piper, Seifert and Jones led the trainees through a specific exercise in which a training building was set on fire on the first floor. Teams of trainees, led by instructors, covered each of the key areas, connecting the hoses to the fire hydrant, scoping out the scene to identify any civilians in the building, and coordinating the response to the fire and smoke. One team approached to extinguish the fire, a second team climbed to the building’s roof to perform ventilation, while another scaled the building via ground ladders from the front to “rescue” several “victims.”
“I think they did very well. I think they are going to make great additions to the OFPD district,” Piper said after the exercise. “The goal is to make sure they are well trained professionals, fire fighters and paramedics, and are prepared to respond and service the community and the OFPD. Our number one goal is service to the community.”
OFPD Board of Trustees President Jim Hickey praised the district’s training program noting that not only does it save the district funds, but also has been recognized as one of the country’s best training programs.
“We have the finest firefighters in the country and much of that comes from the training that they receive from experienced and qualified professionals,” Hickey said.
“Residents of our district feel very secure and confident that the Fire District can respond to any emergency situation and circumstance quickly and successfully. That’s a confidence that reflects that tremendous effort that our firefighters make to respond to the community’s emergency and paramedic needs."
Afterwards, trainees Jason Postma and Martin Majda spoke with reporters who were allowed to observe and record the training session.
“We’re learning from a great group, an experienced group. Their knowledge and experience is vast. The dedication to the community plays into this. We are here to serve the residents,” trainee Majda said.
“The Orland Fire Protection District is the best fire department in the country and everyone in fire service wants to work here. This is the top of the line for this profession.”
Postma added, “The training we received has a huge focus on the fundamentals of firefighting and on service to the community. The Orland Fire Protection District has the highest level of dedication to professionalism and the deepest unwavering commitment to the community it serves.”
The 10 trainees include: Brian Paliga, James Logan, Jason Postma, Justin Dublin, Kory Tuburan, Mark Hogan, Martin Majda, Matt Giermala, Matthew Hoover, and Steven Prohaska.