All firefighters need a Basic Operation Firefighter Certification, but now the Illinois State Fire Marshal is looking to make completing it a little easier.

"This is a game-changing opportunity," said Illinois Fire Service Institute Director Royal Mortenson.

It’s an opportunity that could very well save your life.

In the seconds after a fire breaks out, people want to know help is on the way but sometimes numbers can be difficult to get for rural departments.

"Membership is an issue, recruiting is an issue," said Rochester Fire Chief John Archer.

The Illinois State Fire Marshal said that is one of the reasons they and the Illinois Fire Service Institute made a new partially online course to become a firefighter.

"We have put together, over the last year, a blended operations firefighter training program, which is going to allow volunteers who simply do not have the time or the place for that matter to go to a full-time academy," said Mortenson.

The new course is 18 weeks long and uses both online and in-person training.

It is free thanks to a grant from the fire prevention fund in the latest state budget and is an easier method to train more people.

"Volunteers, which represent over 70 percent of the firefighters in this state, can't go to those academies because they have day jobs," said Mortenson.

"Today's training requirements on any fire department are kind of mandated by the state and with that in mind, it takes a lot of time for any volunteer member to become a member of an agency," said Archer.

Both departments are hopeful this new program will help to encourage more people to grow their department and other departments across the state.

Now before anyone can start the training, they need to be sponsored by a fire department in the state of Illinois.

The program will officially start its first class on August 10th and it will have 50 people in it.

Source: Springfield, Decatur, Champaign Ill