Fire Department recruits in training

Rockford Fire Department conducts training exercise at the old Lincoln Hotel in downtown Rockford

What was the fire truck doing in front of the old Lincoln Hotel on North Church Street on Monday afternoon? Some people saw the ladders being raised and lowered and came to watch.

For the Rockford Fire Department, it was a class in session, or field exercises, to be specific.

Division Chief of Training Patrick Keehnen said: “We have a recruit class going on with 12 new firefighters. As part of this process, there is an 11-week academy. On that day (April 26), we were doing some training. They were practicing ladder drills, different ladder evolutions on the building. For some of it, they would pull in 25- or 30-foot ladders, just different ways to ladder the building. Sometimes they might put a ladder to the second floor or to the roof.”

Capt. Dennis Cavanagh, the training instructor, explained: “We’ve got 12 new people going through recruit training in the academy. Yesterday (April 26) was the day they were being trained on all the evolutions of the ladders, how to raise them. Different types of ladders and the lengths. We had 12 recruits and three instructors. At the end of 11 weeks, they will take a short test which will certify them as Firefighter II. They can go up to Firefighter III; each level is a more advanced type of training.”

The training encompasses a wide range of skills. “It covers approximately 23 different topics,” said Cavanagh, “everything from emergency medical service to ladder work to hose work, search and rescue, extrication, vehicles, different types of rescue techniques. They will get a certification. At the end of 11 weeks, they will be assigned to a company at one of the firehouses here in Rockford,” except for one recruit from the Dixon Rural Fire Department, who will go back to Dixon at the end of his training.

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