During Public Safety Month, the Naperville fire and police departments filled the October calendar with special open houses and events to showcase initiatives that help keep the community safe around the clock. In addition, the departments have highlighted educational programs that help engage, train and prepare citizens about public safety, too.
For one event on Thursday evening, Oct. 18, members wearing Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT) gear volunteered to answer questions about the emergency equipped vehicles stationed in the parking lot at Meson Sabika. The exhibit greeted family and friends of the Naperville Fire Department who had come for the Citizens Appreciate Public Safety (CAPS) dinner where members of the Naperville Fire Department were recognized for their service beyond the call of duty.
Volunteers Carol Pradel and Adam Kirchoff , outfitted in rain gear, were available to answer questions about ambulances and fire trucks , including the huge emergency scene light tower that illuminated the display in the rainfall—not the best night for photos.
Over the past decade, Pradel has been present at countless events to enlighten citizens about volunteer initiatives with the fire department. The other night she mentioned that 14 local residents who participated in the 2012 Citizens Fire Academy ( CFA) would receive their certificates for completing the 9-week course during ceremonies on Oct. 21. Pradel was graduated from the second CFA class about 10 years ago.
“This Sunday we set up at noon and the 2-hour graduation starts at 1,” Pradel said, noting she’d studied fire safety for two years at Waubonsee Community College about 10 years ago, too. ” It’s out at station 4 and I hope the sun will be out.”
Station 4 is located at 1971 Brookdale Road. Station 4 also is the drop-off facility for household hazardous waste.
The sun shined on October 21
The sun was out and PN’s cameras captured the essence of the graduation exercise that included climbing a very high ladder.
Since the 2012 Citizens Fire Academy began in mid-August, participants had gotten a whiff of the smells sparked by alarming sounds of distress that come with search and rescue, extinguishing fires and saving lives, heroic acts left to firefighters 365 days a year. Under the leadership of Deputy Chief Mark Ziemnik, they also discovered many proactive ways to protect their homes and the community—and became mindful of how much dedication to practice and ongoing training goes into a career that many accomplished firefighters make look easy.
“People want hands-on, real experiences,” said Ziemnik when addressing how the academy is organized. “You’re not going to sit in the classroom when you take our course.”
Soraya McLaughlin, Community Education Specialist for the NFD, noted the class is geared for adults of all ages. Citizens have ranged from 18 to 80 during the 15 classes with which she’s been associated. “It can be physically demanding. And I’ve got to say this year’s class overall has been the most daring.”
McLaughlin attributed some of that dare to the enthusiasm of the 14 students who made up this year’s class such as City Manager Doug Krieger, Cindy Bickle from Naperville Animal Control and photographer Jim Hoch.
During graduation ceremonies, students demonstrated what they’d learned from the professionals who go to work at 10 fire stations strategically located throughout Naperville to keep response times to within 4-6 minutes. For instance, during the course, they acquire structure training, EMS skills and auto extrication experience that prepared them for a live burn drill at the end of the class.
Sunday, graduates suited up to apply their new knowledge to real fire situations in the practice tower at Station 4. Many even climbed to the top of the 105-ft. ladder that extended high above the tower.
“CFA gives residents a chance to see first hand what firefighters do—they quickly see that our firefighters are proud of their jobs,” said Ziemnik who joined the NFD in 1980.
And just as a proud teacher, he added, “Nine weeks ago they didn’t know how to suit up in structural firefighting gear and today they’re climbing a 105-ft. ladder.”
McLaughlin said the next class will begin in mid-August 2013. The NFA is offered free of charge. “We offer the Citizens Fire Academy once a year. We have found that 14-15 is the optimal class size because that way there’s always something for someone to do. There’s seldom any waiting around.”
Click any photo to enlarge. Use arrows to navigate from one image to the next.
Naperville Fire Department Photo Gallery by www.jameshochphotography.com. That gets you to the general gallery. There you will find a “NFD – 2012 – Citizens Fire Academy” gallery that contains all the pictures by Hoch, as well as pictures from anyone else who was taking the 2012 class.
Ongoing NFD programs
Donate “clunker” cars The Naperville Fire Department is seeking donations of used and otherwise so-called “clunker” vehicles from residents and local businesspeople. Donated vehicles will be used to allow firefighters to practice auto extrication skills. All vehicles must have titles and keys available. If a vehicle cannot be driven to the Naperville Fire Department, but is located within the Naperville city limits, Fire Department staff will make arrangements to have it picked up. To make a donation of a vehicle, contact Ruthi Sommers at (630) 305-5900.
First Aid Training The City of Naperville offers first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) certification classes for residents and businesses, in accordance with American Heart Association guidelines. Classes are held at the Naperville Electric Service Center and taught by certified Naperville Fire Department personnel. INFO: (630) 420-6141.