Village of Villa Park
May 26, 2015

Villa Park Citizens Fire Academy Brings the Heat

Villa Park Citizens Fire Academy participants prepare for live fire training.
All photos provided courtesy of Al Stasch.
Villa Park Citizens Fire Academy participants prepare for live fire training.

Greetings, Villa Park!

Suddenly, I realized the gray smoke that had been blurring my vision for the past few minutes had completely eliminated my sight. It was an eerie feeling, but I kept breathing through my self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and felt the temperature rising near the top of my head as the fire blazed a few feet away from me.

The Citizens Fire Academy (CFA) participants experienced a live fire demonstration in a burn tower used for fire training last week, and I’m proud to say we all survived!

Villa Park Citizens Fire Academy participants prepare for live fire training.

After weeks of instruction and practice donning the bunker gear the Villa Park Fire Department provided us, I felt confident when I showed up at the training tower in Addison for our live fire demonstration. As the moment of truth approached, Villa Park firefighters, one after another, patiently checked and double checked my gear as I began to worry if all of my hair was covered or my mask was on tight enough. After all, this was the BIG SHOW.

Thanks to all of the great Villa Park firefighters who triple checked our gear and kept a close eye on each of us, CFA participants experienced first-hand what few besides those who train to be firefighters get to encounter safely.

Villa Park Citizens Fire Academy participants begin to watch smoke fill the training tower.

While, I could feel the heat surrounding me and my eyes could barely make out the glow of the flames through the thick smoke, the temperature in the room approached 300 degrees – hottest at the ceiling level and cooler, but still very hot, near the floor where we were seated.

Once we emerged from the smoke-filled room, I realized I was sweating. We hadn’t even moved while in the room with the fire. I can’t imagine the physical strain firefighters go through while battling a live fire in an unfamiliar building with 60 pounds or more of equipment strapped on their bodies.

Villa Park Citizens Fire Academy participants emerge from their first live fire experience.

Class wasn’t over, yet, though. CFA participants took a break before working in teams to pull a charged fire hose up the stairs and search two rooms in the smoke-filled training tower.

Although, the firefighters extinguished the fire, smoke filled the training tower. Even without smoke, handling the fire hose would have been difficult. Those hoses have a mind of their own. After our last adventure in the tower, we each had the chance to spray the fire hose.

Villa Park Citizens Fire Academy participants try their hand at controlling a fire hose.

The day at the Addison training tower was definitely a CFA highlight. Many of my fellow academy participants shared similar expressions of gratitude for the firefighters who put themselves at risk to save others. I always felt a great deal of respect for the men and women who choose careers as firefighters, but after getting just a taste of what they train for, that feeling of respect multiplied 100 times over.

Villa Park Citizens Fire Academy searched the training tower in Addison.

We have a few weeks left of CFA, and I know they’ll be full of more once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

Until next time,



Mari Grigaliunas
Village of Villa Park
Public Information Officer
Office: 630-592-6082
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