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Fire-RescueEMS Instructor, Ed Leeson thanks all our local fire departments for their consistent support of our program

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History Integral to Understanding

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History is always an integral component to understanding and learning.  KACC Fire-Rescue-EMR Instructor incoporated history into his curriculum having his students complete research papers on the horrific and historical Our Lady of the Angels school fire which occurred December 1, 1958; taking the lives of 92 children and 3 nuns.

To compliment what they learned through research, Mr. Leeson invited John Doyle to KACC to speak with students.  Mr. Doyle is a survivor of the Our Lady of the Angels school fire and volunteer firefighter with the Forest Park Fire Department.  He gave the students a wealth of information and insight into the fire itself and, tied in the many changes made to school fire code in the years following the fire. 

In addition to Mr. Doyle's visit, Mr. Leeson took his students on a field trip to view antique fire apparatus and equipment at the invitation of Mr. Pat Holohan. Mr. Doyle was also on hand to talk with students.  The information was a terrific reinforcement of many concepts taught in class. Students got a closer look into the history and evolution of the fire service.

According to Mr. Leeson, the display of antique fire apparatus was both "impressive and overwhelming.... Mr. Holohan's knowledge about the history and development of the many tools, equipment and procedures really enlightened students and complimented what is being learned in class."


Comments about a variety of historical facts which stuck out in students' minds included:

  • I learned George Washington was a volunteer fire fighter. – Tyler Hendrickson (Manteno)
  • Fire departments used rattles before they had sirens or horns. – Dominic Dockus (Bishop McNamara)
  • I saw how much fire department equipment has changed over the years. – Austin Morse
  • I learned only officers wore the first air packs so they could run into a building and evaluate the situation. – Nathan Battiato (Peotone)
  • I learned more about “fire marks.” – Hanna Allen (BBCHS)
  • I didn’t know how many things in the fire service were developed through trial and error. – Magdalena Gaffney (Beecher)
  • I learned about the old emergency fire alarm boxes that used to be on street corners. Justin Janssen (Beecher)
  • I learned that before telephones, fire alarm boxes used Morse Code. (Brandon Schiemann) (Beecher)
  • I learned Al Capone may have influenced the appointment of the Cicero Fire Chief – Kollin Krumwiede (Herscher)

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Kankakee Area Career Center4083 N 1000 W Road

PO Box 570Bourbonnais, IL 60914

815-939-4971Fax: 815-939-7598

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