The Daily Herald has an article about a new Explorer program with the Elgin Fire Department:

The Elgin Fire Department is starting a Fire Explorer program with the hope of inspiring young people to become firefighters while adding diversity to its ranks.

The program, open to youths 14 to 20 years old, is expected to kick off in early fall, said Elgin firefighter George Steiner, who spearheaded the initiative.

The curriculum will mirror much of the fire academy training required for entry-level firefighters, albeit at a much slower pace, Steiner said. The program will meet twice a month.

Right off the bat, Explorers will learn CPR and First Aid; other topics will include fire behavior, extrication, ladders, fire hoses, water behavior, forcible entry, ventilation and rescue, Steiner said.

The program is estimated to cost about $15,000 per year, including materials, helmets and uniforms, he said. Elgin Fire Chief John Fahy said the cost will be covered partially by the department’s public education budget, and the rest hopefully by city money set aside for diversity initiatives.

“The program was probably long overdue,” Fahy said. “If you’re an Elgin student and you wanted to learn about the fire service, you had to join the South Elgin Fire Explorer program. The program will combine on- and off-duty officers and yield a minimal amount of overtime, Fahy said.

Elgin firefighter Mike Przybylski agreed. Education will come above everything else, as the kids will be required to maintain a C or better average in school, Przybylski said.

Much of the new program is modeled upon Elgin’s long-standing Police Explorer program and the Aurora Fire Explorer program, created in 2002.

Firefighter Carl DeCarlo, who’s also the fire science instructional coordinator at Elgin Community College, has been instrumental in putting together the new Elgin program, Przybylski said. In the future, Explorers might be eligible to get an EMT-Basic license through ECC upon completion of the program, he said.

The first class will consist of 20 Explorers. Candidates will have to pass a basic physical test and go through an interview process. There will be a Fire Explorer open house and orientation from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 12, at Fire Station No. 2, 650 Big Timber Drive, Elgin. For details, call (847) 931-6181 or (847) 931-6177, or email

thanks Dan