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Fire science senior Cory Weiden climbs down a ladder from the mezzanine level inside the fire science room at the Area Career Center on Tuesday as senior Brandon Fitzgerald secures the bottom. The students are using equipment loaned to them by the Peru Fire Department as part of their schooling.
L-P senior Brandon Fitzgerald looked at the fire truck in the parking lot and wondered: Will he get a ride?
The answer? No, something better.
Fitzgerald and his classmates in the fire science program at the Area Career Center have the engine to use in their classes this semester.
Peru Fire Department is allowing the ACC to house its reserve engine since the department gained a new truck. The ACC has had the truck since Jan. 10.
“I never expected our class to have a fire truck to use,” said L-P senior Jake Swietek. “I’m really excited to be able to use it.”
Fire science instructor William “Buck” Manley said students will work with the truck’s ladders, hose deployment and storage, hand tools, and cleaning and maintaining the power tools.
“It gives us more realistic equipment and tools to teach with,” Manley said. “It gives students more ownership of the class.”
L-P senior Kayla Tondi said she was excited when she found out her class would be able to work with a real fire truck.
“We get to learn how the different fire departments set up everything differently,” Tondi said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for our class to work with it.”
Manley said he will pull the engine out of the fire science building and park it outside to simulate that building on fire. Only Manley will be allowed to actually drive it, and it will only stay in the ACC parking lot. The career center is located on the La Salle-Peru Township High School campus.
“The kids are very excited,” said ACC director Mary Stouffer. “It really does make it look like a fire science classroom.”
The fire science students are looking forward to the addition to their learning experience.
Manley said students will use the fire engine at least through the spring semester, and he hopes to continue to use it again for future classes.
Peru Fire Department still owns the truck, and firefighters will continue to use it for their own training. The ACC location is accessible to the department, Manley said.
“The odds of them having to get this back for an emergency are extremely, extremely slim, but there’s always that possibility,” Manley said.
Peru fire chief Jeff King said he was glad to support the fire science class.
“It’s a great opportunity for the vocational center,” King said. “It’s a great benefit to that program.”