Bloomingdale firefighter 'shocked' by statewide honor
It's a rare situation that can stun Jeff Janus.
As a battalion chief with the Bloomingdale Fire Protection District, he's accustomed to working under extremely high-pressure conditions.
This month, however, Janus found himself "completely shocked" when he received word that the Illinois Society of Fire Service Instructors named him Fire Instructor of the Year.
"I'm still trying to wrap my head around it," he said.
Janus, who has worked with the Bloomingdale district for 18 years, teaches classes through the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute. He teaches new safety techniques not only to his own colleagues, but to students throughout the state.
He was nominated by a colleague, although both Janus and Bloomingdale Fire Chief Mike McNamara said they don't know who gave him the nod.
Janus was chosen for the honor from among roughly 1,200 fire departments in Illinois, McNamara said.
"He is a very dedicated individual, very knowledgeable and constantly is looking to better not only himself but the organization," McNamara said. "What he learns he brings back to us. It's not different than a doctor: some don't stay current, while others stay up on the latest research and it makes a difference."
Janus was honored during a ceremony in Peoria.
Some of his recent training for colleagues and students includes a leadership program for officers, based on a military model, as well as firefighter safety and survival.
"For many years we practiced on how to save civilians, but we never focused on how to save one of our brothers who was in trouble," Janus said.
He said he shares the honor with both his students and mentors.
"There are so many awesome individuals in the fire service who have helped me throughout my career, who have mentored and guided me and I've aspired to be like, so I am humbled," Janus said.