RLC receiving $92k grant for mine, fire rescue training project - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

RLC receiving $92k grant for mine, fire rescue training project

INA, IL (KFVS) -

For the third time, Rend Lake College's Coal Mine Training Center is receiving a Brookwood-Sago Mine Safety Grant to increase training options for coal miners and firefighters everywhere.

The grant of $92,247 is the largest of the three RLC has received in recent years, including a $73,000 grant in 2012 and a $50,000 grant in 2009.

The RLC project, titled "Mine Emergency, Prevention and Preparedness Project," will restructure and expand on current mine training curriculum and create a new teaching environment using weather-tight sea containers. These two additions will challenge miners and rescue teams with skills including patient extraction, advanced firefighting skill, rope rescue, smoke exploration and confined space training.

Chris Nielsen, RLC Dean of Applied Science, said this grant will help relieve some of the financial burden from the participants and companies who participate in the one- and two-day training sessions.

"We currently do fire training for the industry, with several sessions each week, and this grant will benefit the miners starting by paying for instructor costs. Without the grant, the cola companies pay the entire cost of the instruction, facilities, and equipment use," said Nielsen.

Additionally, the grant will help RLC expand on the coal firefighting training center by adding a multilevel mine facility north of the current fire tunnel at the Coal Mine Training Center;

"This year's award will also allow us to expand our training center so that we can train fire brigades and pay for the cost of instruction," said Nielsen. "We will produce new firefighting curriculum and host a mine skills rescue contest and a Mine Emergency Response Drill during the year."

The new curriculum will include lecture in a classroom as well as realistic, hands-on practice in three different laboratory environments. In addition to the new environment, participants will use the current mock-mine and mine rescue and fire training tunnel.

There are currently 22 active mines in the 14 Illinois counties surrounding RLC. Those mines collectively employ close to 3,800 miners, and in 2013, produced slightly over 52 million tons of coal. RLC also draws miners and firefighters from across the country to train in the state-of-the-art facility.

Ron Rains, the lead firefighting instructor at RLC, said the grant will only increase the success of the RLC program.

This grant will not only benefit our coal mine firefighting training, but it will also be a great asset to our structural firefighting curriculum," said Rains. "Once this is complete, we will have the total package for training coal minters, as well as firefighters."

The Brookwood-Sago grant is being supported by the U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration.

For more information about the coal mine and firefighter training, contact the RLC Applied Science Department at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1261.

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