Highland volunteer fire department uses brutal cold as training opportunity


HIGHLAND, Ill. – The Highland Fire Department used one of the worst weather nights of the year to conduct ice and cold-water rescue training.

Temperatures sunk into the low single digits Tuesday night as firefighters lined up near a frozen pond outside the city’s community center.

“These are the conditions we’ll be working in, so this is what we’re going to drill in,” said Highland Fire Chief Brian Wilson.

The training is an annual event.

Lt. Dan Tallman was one of the firefighters dressed in a thermal protective suit as he entered the water so others could train on rescue techniques.

“Everything that you can train for on the worst-case scenario, we’re prepared for,” Tallman said.

Highland is a volunteer fire department.

“This is a testament to their dedication to the citizens of the community,” said Wilson.

The fire chief said training in difficult conditions could someday lead to a life being saved. Wilson credits the department’s members for their dedication.

“It shows what they’re made of,” he said.

Volunteer firefighter Logan VonHatten was among those training in the cold.

“We have to train in bad conditions because we’re probably going to get called in bad conditions,” he said. “We have to be ready.”

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