ELBURN – Tim Rogers stood holding a fire extinguisher, poised in front of a machine designed to produce a flame. As the Elburn resident tried to put out the fire, he got encouragement from Elburn firefighter Brad Reese, who yelled out that he was too high and had to aim lower.
"There, you've got it," Reese shouted as Rogers proceeded to put out the fire, as a crowd of classmates and firefighters looked on at Elburn Fire Station No. 2 on Hughes Road. Then, the next participant took his turn. Each class member successfully put out a fire.
The fire extinguishing lesson is a big highlight in the training sessions for the Elburn Community Emergency Response Team. Rogers, 66, is among 16 in the class, learning skills such as fire extinguishing, search and rescue and medical operations. Elburn emergency officials will put on the classes periodically in an effort to train community members in critical skills, so residents could be prepared in an actual emergency.
Some members of the class might join the Elburn CERT team, which provides assistance such as traffic control, when necessary.
Elburn Village Trustee Dave Gualdoni is a leader in the Elburn CERT community, and he helps organize the classes. Gualdoni said the group began in 2009. He shows up for the sessions and provides encouragement for those who take them.
"It helps people help themselves," he said.
Rogers would seem a natural fit for the class. His son-in-law, George Smith, is a firefighter in Crystal Lake and once was a paid-on-call firefighter in Batavia and Geneva. Although participants were enjoying the fire extinguisher exercise, Rogers said he understood how important it was to learn such skills.
"This is a serious organization," he said. Rogers said that since he is retired, he has time to offer community service.
Another participant, Batavia resident Robin Buenrostro, 55, said her husband, Jim, is a firefighter in West Chicago. She said she enjoyed the classroom instruction, but she was excited to journey into the firehouse and get the training on the fire extinguisher.
"I like the hands-on stuff," she said. "This is what I want to learn. … To me, this is the best thing."
She said she was taking the class because it's important to know what to do in an emergency. She said she could imagine how helpful it would be "if we all took this training."
Reese said he does a lot of public education classes. He pointed out that this is National Fire Prevention Week, so the timing is ideal. And he credited Gualdoni for helping make it happen, saying that the trustee "is very committed to this program." Reese said those who go through it come out with a better understanding of what the fire department does.
"All we ask is that they get basic knowledge out of the class," Reese said.
Also at the class was Laura Andersen, a Campton Hills village trustee. Andersen said she was "a graduate of this course and part of the CERT team in Elburn," as well as an NRA instructor. She praised Gualdoni for pushing for the training for those outside of Elburn. And, as she watched participants take their turns at the fire, she noted that they now would know what to do if they had to put out a fire at home or at a neighbor's house.
"They are empowered by the knowledge," Andersen said.
Gualdoni said CERT team members had been called to two emergencies in Elburn over the past year. Those interested can visit www.elburncert.org to learn about future class opportunities or view more information about Elburn CERT. It's something Village President Dave Anderson said he would encourage. He said it's an important group.
"They're there when we need them," he said.
For information about the Elburn Community Emergency Response Team, visit www.elburncert.org.