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Fire school returns
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MONROE - Firefighters will rally in Monroe for the 76th Southern Wisconsin Northern Illinois Fire/Rescue Association (SWNIFRA) Fire School August 17-19.

Attendance is expected to be about 700 this year, down 30 percent from last year, but Monroe Deputy Fire Chief Lane Heins said that's not all bad.

"The class numbers will be down, but that gives (firefighters) more chance for repetition, which is good," he said.

This year firefighters have a host of new classes to choose from, including an array of EMT classes. Heins said these classes are being offered, because firefighters are asking for them.

"Firefighters are often the first rescue personnel on the scene of an accident, even before an ambulance arrives," he said.

According to Heins, 75-80 percent of fire calls are for emergency medical service, especially in full-time fire departments.

Monroe Fire Department has about 50 volunteer firefighters, and more than half of them are crossed-trained as first responders, EMTs, intermediate EMTs or paramedics, Heins said. The department took more than 40 EMS calls in 2011.

The names of the EMT classes this weekend give some indication of what rescue personnel are walking into: Penetrating Trauma Lessons Learned; Kids are an Accident Waiting to Happen, Pediatric Trauma Case; Seizures-causes, signs & treatment; Hypothermia: What you don't know can kill'em; Current Street Drugs of Choice; and Tales from Inside the Helicopter, Trauma Case Studies.

Also new to the curriculum is Heads Up Approach to Size Up and Fire Attack, a four-hour course to teach fire attack priorities, no matter what fire apparatus is pulling on scene first.

The Heads Up course, along with Tactics for the First Arriving Officer, are especially important to all-volunteer departments that do not have a command person who can arrive on scene ahead of trucks to coordinate tactics and strategies, said Heins.

Tactics for the First Arriving Officer - a 16-hour course being taught by Captain Dave Fornell, Cass Town FD Ohio, and Ret. Chief of Chicago FD, Andy O'Donnell - will cover topics that every firefighter put in the position of leading a team must know, including: safe attack practices, accountability, size-up procedures, reading a fire, building ventilation, self-escape options, and safe operational tactics for firefighter assist teams. The class consists of a full day of intensive classroom instruction, while the second day will put the strategy and tactics learned to use in intensive, hands-on live burns. This class will expose students to live fire conditions.

The fire school will take place in various locations across the city, including the Green County Fairground and the MERIT Center.