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updated: 6/10/2014 9:29 PM

Naperville looks to extend fire training to other departments

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As six new firefighters work their first 24-hour shifts this week in Naperville, they should already be familiar with their surroundings.

The department trained this group of new hires in-house, and officials say they would like to offer their training program to new members of other departments.

"Working together to train people because we have the means and the facilities -- that's a good thing," said Kevin Lyne, division chief for training. "It really makes it a cooperative effort."

Lyne said the group of five new hires and one member returning from disability leave made up the largest number of firefighters Naperville has brought on at one time in several years.

Officials decided to provide the classroom and hands-on experience necessary to meet state certification standards through sessions in Naperville instead of at an outside facility.

"They went through an eight-week training program here at our fire academy, and we did that all in-house with our own people so we didn't have to pay for any additional training," Chief Mark Puknaitis said. "Normally those types of trainings cost $3,000 a piece, so it saved us a good deal of money."

The training regimen prepared new hires Anthony DiRaimondo, Ryan Goode, Eric Klass, Daniel LaVieri and Evan Shor, along with returning firefighter Donald Larson, for active duty starting this week.

Classroom sessions included information about hoses and ladders, radios, personal protective equipment, firefighting tactics and strategies, the Edward Hospital system and fire department history. Trainees also went through live fire drills, a flashover simulation and a paramedic skills refresher -- all while using actual equipment they will operate on the job.

Lyne said an outside training agency couldn't offer that level of applicable detail.

"They're teaching them basic firefighter skills, not necessarily how the Naperville Fire Department operates," Lyne said.

Departments in the Naperville area might see large numbers of retirements in the coming years as firefighters hired during the residential building boom of the 1980s reach the eligible age, Lyne said. Since Naperville is certified by the state fire marshal's office to run a training academy, the department plans to invite new hires from other departments to join in, creating collaboration and a new revenue source.

"What we're working on is building that program so we can establish something that we can even offer it to other agencies," Puknaitis said.

Timing of a potential expanded training program in Naperville depends on when nearby departments are hiring.

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