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Gift provides state of the art fire training

R. Steve Dick/University Relations

Firefighters enter a fire simulation trailer at KU Continuing Education May 2. Through Continuing Ed., firefighters across the state will receive training with the unit.

More than 1,100 firefighters across the state will get lifesaving specialized training thanks to a $50,000 gift.

Officials from KU Endowment announced the gift from IMA of Kansas Inc. and Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. to benefit the Kansas Fire and Rescue Training Institute, a unit of KU Continuing Education.

The training will take place in the institute's mobile firefighting simulator. The simulator allows firefighters to practice their skills on live fires under controlled conditions. It is fueled by propane and replicates actual conditions firefighters encounter.

The gift was presented May 2 at KU Continuing Education. The simulator and other equipment was demonstrated as part of "Getting to Know Your KU," an awareness event sponsored by the KU Unclassified Senate. The Lawrence Fire Department also participated in the demonstration.

Glenn Pribbenow, director of the Kansas Fire and Rescue Training Institute, said the $50,000 gift will pay the costs for 1,100 firefighters across the state to train in the simulator.

"Firefighters in all parts of Kansas will benefit from this gift," said Pribbenow. "The simulator is a realistic and effective way for them to train and prepare for the types of structure fires they'll see on the job."

The Kansas Fire and Rescue Training Institute is a mobile fire training academy. Because 85 percent of Kansas firefighters are volunteers, the institute trains firefighters in their communities to eliminate the need to travel to Lawrence.

"We can't think of a better way to support the firefighters in Kansas," said Jim Sloan of IMA. "We're proud to be able to help in such a meaningful way, knowing more than 1,100 firefighters will benefit from such an important training simulator."

"Continuing Education is the university's primary provider of outreach programs, and our fire and rescue program is instrumental in fulfilling that important mission," said Fred Pawlicki, executive director of Continuing Education.

The gift is part of a nationwide program called Fireman's Fund HeritageSM, which is funded by Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. The program is designed to provide needed equipment, training and educational tools to local fire departments. Since 2004, Fireman's Fund has issued grants to hundreds of different departments totaling more than $11 million. Independent insurance agencies that sell Fireman's Fund products are able to direct these grants to support fire stations in their communities. IMA, headquartered in Wichita, was instrumental in directing this specific one to the Kansas Fire and Rescue Training Institute.

The Kansas Fire and Rescue Training Institute conducted more than 550 training events last year for nearly 6,700 participants in 95 Kansas counties. KU Continuing Education works with academic departments, research centers and administrative agencies to conduct more than 1,000 events annually with nearly 70,000 participants around the world.

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