The University of Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI) was the host of the 2007 National Fire & Emergency Services Exploring Conference at its Champaign training campus. Around 700 youth participants traveled to Champaign from all over the country on June 18, 2007 for the five-day event. An eight member team from the Inver Grove Heights, MN, Fire Department (IGHFD) Explorer Post 627 not only learned and competed at the event, but brought home two very significant awards.
IGHFD Team A, with members Nathan Rank, Daniel Bernardy, Luke Caneff, and Jon Pedersen tied for first place in the nation in the CPR and Movement competition. After two difficult tie breakers still resulted in a tie, a decision was made by time in action and the team brought home the second place trophy. In the individual event called the Candidate Physical Ability Test, a series of fireground duties requiring strength, speed and agility are performed in a safe and efficient manner while being timed and scored for effectiveness. IGHFD Explorer Jon Pedersen rose to the occasion and placed second in the nation with an overall time of 3:16. All members of Post 627 did an excellent job and were viewed as "skilled, disciplined, and hard working" by other participants and post advisors.
The IGHFD Post 627 leadership, or Post Advisors, are also former IGHFD Explorers themselves. Firefighter Paul Rank, an explorer earlier in this decade states "This was an awesome experience that I am sure the Explorers will never forget, from the opening ceremony to the closing it was non-stop action." Another Post Advisor, Firefighter Dan Bernardy, an Explorer in the early 1970's said of the week "These boys learned to look each other in the eye, trust their teammate, follow their lead, cover each others back, and make a focused commitment to a mission. I am incredibly proud of all of them."
The youth improved their skills and competed with Posts from around the nation in the following events:
- Team Events
- CPR and Movement
- Spinal Immobilization and Move
- Arson Investigation
- Bunker Gear and SCBA Relay
- Room Search
- Paramedic Biking Competition
- Make & Break
- Ladder Raise
- Individual Events
- One-Person CPR
- Candidate Physical Ability Test
- Written Examination
- Initial Size-Up and Incident Command
- Wildfire Shelter Deployment
- Bunker Gear and SCBA
The objectives of the 2007 National Fire/Emergency Services Exploring Conference were to:
- Provide an opportunity to substantially enrich the program of each Fire/Emergency Services post.
- Help create new Fire/Emergency Services posts.
- Enhance the level of officer and Advisor performance within existing Fire/Emergency Services posts.
- Promote an exchange of successful post program ideas.
- Encourage posts to incorporate the five emphasis areas (career, service, leadership, life skills, and character education) into their post program planning.
- Create a positive climate for federal fire/emergency services agencies and national fire/emergency services associations to become familiar with Fire/Emergency Services Exploring.
- Provide Fire/Emergency Services Explorers with a format for career and educational exploration.
- Give Explorers an opportunity for recreational and social activities, and for having fun.
- Remember those that gave the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the personal safety of every American.