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18 students, 6 months, 250 hours of trial by fire

Firefighters graduate Basic Operations class

Utica firefighter Morgan Foster (middle) was among 18 local volunteer firefighters who recently completed the 2018 State of Illinois Basic Operations Firefighter Class. With Utica Fire Chief of Staff Ed Rogers (left) and Chief Ben Brown, Foster participated in the graduation ceremony at the Utica fire station Tuesday evening, where she was awarded her certificate.
Utica firefighter Morgan Foster (middle) was among 18 local volunteer firefighters who recently completed the 2018 State of Illinois Basic Operations Firefighter Class. With Utica Fire Chief of Staff Ed Rogers (left) and Chief Ben Brown, Foster participated in the graduation ceremony at the Utica fire station Tuesday evening, where she was awarded her certificate.

Morgan Foster has served with the Utica Fire Department since she was 16 years old.

Six years later, she is graduating after completion of the State of Illinois Basic Operations Firefighters Class.

The La Salle resident was among 18 volunteer firefighters honored during a graduation ceremony Tuesday night at the Utica Fire Department.

The 22-year-old Foster described the firefighting training as “a challenging experience.” She and other students logged more than 250 hours of training during a six-month period.

Utica Fire Chief Ben Brown said the men and women in the course were trained in the basic skills of firefighting. Training included fire behavior, forcible entry, fire attack, water supply, emergency vehicle driving, hazmat and technical rescue awareness.

Instructors were members of area fire departments and the Illinois Fire Service Institute. Classes were conducted in Oglesby, Utica, Peru, Wallace, Ottawa, Sandwich and Rock Island.

Individual honorees for the evening included class valedictorian Mike Cuchiara, of the La Salle Fire Department; Most Dedicated awardee Maria Korte, of the Spring Valley Fire Department; and Leadership Award recipient Geo Richter, of the Serena Fire Department.

Additional firefighters honored in Tuesday’s ceremony, listed by their department, are:

Brian Allen, of Grand Ridge; Sarah Bolelli, of Spring Valley; Hayden Cowie and Brian Hefner, of Marsellies; Pat Harvey, of Oglesby; Ben Hoffman and Ben Lakan, of Wallace; Jose Rios, Hunter Thurman and Jared Weide, of La Salle; Lucas Rivera and Don Sester, of Naplate; Brady Rutishauser, of Mendota; and Andrew Snow, of Wenona.

Brown said all of the graduates now will be eligible for firefighter certification through the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

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