‘Fire Factor’ program heats up with grant

By Nicola Crean

Champaign City Council voted to pass a resolution allowing the city manager to accept a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday night.

More than $48,000 in funds from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program will be used to support the education programs the Champaign Fire Department offers to University students.

The city will also provide an additional $12,064 toward the programs.

The “Fire Factor” program is offered once every semester at the University.

Regular participants in the program include fraternities, sororities and resident hall advisors.

“We put them in real fire situations,” Deputy Fire Chief Tim Wild said. “They get to see what firefighters do on the job and learn how to use extinguishers.”

Participants get to wear the fire equipment and go through many hands-on activities.

The program also teaches the dangers of overcrowding, whether it is during a house party or at the bars, he said.

The grant will help to fund a new safety campaign called “Subtract Stupidity.”

“It encourages students to be smarter when handling fire devices, such as candles,” Wild said.

The campaign has been developed by students at the University in order to focus attention on college students.

He said the message will be all over Campustown and hopes it will eventually be distributed citywide.

Dist. 4 Councilwoman Marci Dodds said there has been large differences in the money the fire department has received in previous years because this is the first time the department has received this particular type of grant.