MCC's Fire Science Department lauded, receives new ladder truck

A celebration was in order last month when the Fire Science Department at McHenry County College welcomed a new ladder truck to their apparatus fleet.

The truck was obtained from the Stowe Township Volunteer Fire Department in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania. It was presented to MCC's Fire Science Department by the college administration with support from the board of trustees.

"This truck will help our students expand their skills and knowledge in working with aerial ladders/scene placement," said Wes Crain, instructor and Fire Science Department chairman at MCC. "It also gives our Fire Science program the opportunity to offer additional courses to firefighters in the county/state."

The truck's ladder extends to 105 feet, or approximately seven stories in height. It will give students the experience and training needed to serve taller local buildings such as the Holiday Inn in Crystal Lake, hospitals, older downtown areas, or taller residential buildings.

This type of truck is not always used for just height, Crain said, but the horizontal reach allows firefighters to get over the top of large box stores such as Costco or Home Depot.

"It can even be used for water rescues, or if we need to reach someone in a vehicle for a rescue - which then reduces the risks to firefighters being exposed to high water currents," Crain said.

In the program, students will train by climbing the ladder truck, practice with elevated water streams, and gain experience using other equipment stored on the vehicle, which is used in search and rescues, ventilation, forcible entry, vehicle extrication, specialized rescues, and more.

The truck will mainly be used on MCC's campus, but as the program continues to grow, it may visit off-site locations for special training requests.

The truck will be incorporated into the curriculum in the fall of 2022.

"I want to thank McHenry County College officials for their continued support of the Fire Science Department," said Crain. "We're also grateful for academy director Larry Kane and instructor Joe Faehndrick's hard work in finding the truck, acquiring details, and working with various vendors and shippers."

The department was also recently recognized by the U.S. Fire Administration for their Higher Learning Education Curriculum. The Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education Recognition certificate is an acknowledgment that a collegiate emergency services degree program meets the minimum standards of excellence established by FESHE professional development committees and the National Fire Academy.

FESHE concentrates on degree programs that emphasize firefighting response, fire prevention, fire administration, and emergency medical services management.

"This not only allows our students to obtain a national certificate for our core and noncore program course work in the AAS degree, but also allows them to continue their education at a bachelor-level university once they graduate from MCC," said Crain.

"We, as a two-year community college, were well ahead on new standards before the four-year universities made their changes to the new FESHE program."

MCC's Fire Science program is now listed as a FESHE-recognized program on the following websites: the United States Fire Administration; Department of Homeland Security; National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland; and the Illinois State Fire Academy at the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute.

The project has been in the works since 2017 since Crain took over as department chair.

For more information on MCC's Fire Science program, visit

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