The Bradley Fire Department hosted the MABAS 7 fire academy from 2000-2007. The academy was established in 1999 by a group of dedicated fire instructors that wanted to organize training between all the local departments. Fire departments as far north as Will County and as far south as Iroquois County participate in the academy. Participants of the academy, called candidates, come from career, paid-on-call (POC) and volunteer departments. The academy takes place every year from January to June. During these six months the candidates meet twice a week for classroom time. They also give up many Saturdays for practicals (this is when the candidate learns hands on skills needed for firefighting). Candidates learn all aspects of basic firefighting in a military-type atmosphere that promotes respect and learning. The academy is taught by local instructors with years of knowledge and experience to share. Past academy graduates, called angels, help candidates with practicals and tutoring if they need it. The academy also does joint training with the Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI) every spring in Champaign, Illinois. Also experienced at IFSI is a fire behavior class in which the candidates learn how to ‘read’ a fire. The class teaches candidates the different phases of fires and how to tell when a fire is too dangerous to enter.
Candidates also learn how to “rescue their own” during hands on training. Each firefighter has to learn how to rescue fellow firefighters, along with citizens that are trapped. These trainings are physically and mentally exhausting, but exciting. At the end of the academy most students have passed the Illinois State Fire Marshall exam for firefighter II. The proud candidates receive their certificate at their graduation ceremony following the academy.
A special thanks to Capt. Greg Glidewell, Lieut. John Dunlavey, and FF Roger Sipple, directors of the MABAS 7 Fire Academy and to all the instructors and angels that make the academy possible each year.