Illinois firefighters train in Galesburg

By Beau Ebenezer

August 25, 2012 Updated Aug 27, 2012 at 9:57 AM CDT

GALESBURG, Ill. -- Area firefighters are undergoing intense, on-the-job training.

Instructors stress the life-like course prepares them to make those life-or-death decisions, when the heat is on.

About 130 firefighters from all over Western Illinois sweated it out for their annual fire training.

Firefighters, new and experienced, geared up to battle simulation blazes.

"I've been in a few fires but with these new guys, actually seeing live smoke, you really can't see anything in there. It shows you, when it's not stage liked this, that it's a real fire and how dangerous it really can be," said firefighter, John Blake.

New firefighters like Morgan Melvin, who's had about four months experience, wasn't sure what to expect.

"It's not really what I expected. I came in here this morning and I kind of psyched myself out actually. I was like 'I don't know if I want to do this' but eventually, I just manned up and did it," said new firefighter Morgan Melvin

The firefighters entered multi-story buildings filled with heavy smoke from simulation fires.

They were split up into different groups to learn how to attack and vent the fires along with searching and rescuing victims.

"It's a wonderful opportunity for them to learn in a controlled environment and to be more familiar with the tools, equipment, the man power, and the situations they can find themselves in," said Galesburg Fire Department Captain, Steven Selliers.

The newest members also had a session to learn the basics on how to gear up quickly and how to work their breathing equipment.

"It shows us a lot dealing with sticky situations in rescuing somebody, ya know, what we get to do and everything. It's just a good learning experience," said new firefighter Tyler Martin.

The training was organized by the Western Illinois Firefighters association.

The event was locally supported by Alexis Fire Equipment.

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