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Nicor Gas Fire School

Ensuring the safety of every family we serve is our highest priority. Which is why for more than 50 years, Nicor Gas has provided cost- free natural gas fire training to firefighters throughout its northern Illinois service territory.

Nearly 100 firefighters from 40 different departments attended the four days of training in May at Nicor Gas’ Troy Grove storage facility fire school, in LaSalle County. The 10-acre site has more than a dozen unique scenarios designed to test and expand participants' knowledge on how to effectively and safely extinguish natural gas-fueled fires.

During the training, which is provided at no cost to participating departments, firefighters are able to test the use of water and dry chemicals, used separately and together, to extinguish natural gas and various other types of fires. The training is hosted in conjunction with the Illinois Fire Services Institute.

Today, Wally Curtin is a battalion chief with the Frankfort Fire Protection District and an IFSI instructor, who helps conduct the training classes at the Troy Grove fire school. But 30 years ago, Curtin sat in the same seats as the firefighters today. “The chance for firefighters to have this type of hands-on training is invaluable,” Curtin said.

“As firefighters, our first instinct is to use water – very rarely do we use fire extinguishers. But in just 10 seconds, they are amazed at what a fire extinguisher can do,” Curtin said of dry chemical fire extinguishers.

Evan Froehlich, a firefighter of four years with Genoa-Kingston Fire Protection District, said knowing how to work with dry chemicals and fire extinguishers is a great tool, especially when access to water may be limited.

“We’re in a rural area and water can be limited sometimes to 1,000 gallons or less on the scene, so using fire extinguishers can be a real benefit,” Froehlich said.

The fire school is not only offered to first responders in the communities served by Nicor Gas, but also to its employees, from field operations to human resources. Our safety training, operating standards and around-the-clock monitoring meet and exceed all state and federal regulations. That’s because nothing is more important than the safety of our customers and our communities.