Emergency responders ignite fire safety at Kirkwood

Kirkwood Community College hosted the 37th annual Central Iowa Training Association (CITA) Kirkwood Fire School on Sept. 23-24.  

A group of area volunteer, paid firefighters and emergency medical service providers attended classes to learn new techniques or hone their skills in such areas as Basic/Advanced Auto Extrication, Basic Firefighting, Live Mobile Flashover and Class “A,” Big Rig Rescue Extrication, Forcible Entry for Firefighters (Hands-On) and many other areas. The Fire School is the largest in the state of Iowa.

This year’s programs were held at the Kirkwood Continuing Education Training Center (KCETC) in Cedar Rapids, with a twist as some classes were held with the cooperation of the Coralville Fire Department at their Fire Rescue Training Facility. 

According to Kim Fensterman, senior manager of Environmental, Fire and Transportation Programs at Kirkwood Community College, “Central Iowa Training Association members came to Kirkwood to discuss the opportunity to partner with Kirkwood to provide needed training to volunteer firefighters in our seven-county region, back in 1986.” Those seven counties included Benton, Cedar, Delaware, Iowa, Johnson, Linn and Tama Counties. 

Fensterman, who has been involved with the fire school since its inception back in 1986, said, “I think the fire school went well on an administrative level and participants had very good comments on the classes that they attended.  It is nice when participants leave and stop by and say thank you, see you next year. That in itself tells us we did our job.”  

When it came to this year’s enrollment, Fensterman said, “That depends on many factors, the biggest being when harvest starts. Prior to moving to 101 50th Avenue from the main campus we would average anywhere from 45-55 class offerings since then we average 34 classes due to space constraints. With that said, the most students that we can host are around 225-250 resulting in roughly 364 registrations.” 

Mike Sankot, fire chief for the Fairfax Volunteer Fire Department, sent two firefighters to this year’s school. He said, “I think it’s great, a lot of times we as a volunteer department may not get some of the training in as they (new firefighters) can get at the school. The new or less experienced firefighters can take the Basic Firefighting class where they can get a taste of the several aspects of the job. Senior members can get refresher training as well as new skills. This not only benefits the department and the firefighters but the communities we serve.”

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