PSC fire truck 2021-05-27 047_web
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Contest winner gets to ride in Prairie State’s fire truck

Willow School student Liz Riley points to the name she gave Prairie State College’s fire truck, “Brave Pioneer.” (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

Willow School first grader Liz Riley got the ride of her life on Thursday.

She came to school on a fire truck!

Liz won a contest to name the fire truck purchased by Prairie State College for its fire science academy and her prize was a special ride to school. Her classmates stood out on the lawn as the truck pulled up, and they cheered her when she stepped off the red pumper. 

She proudly pointed to Brave Pioneer, the name she gave the truck, that was stenciled on the door panel.

Terri Riley said she worked with her daughter doing research online. They found that the Prairie State College nickname was Pioneers, so Liz used that in her entry.

Despite her size, the 6-year-old said she was able to climb into the truck without help. The ride was “a little bumpy,” and she didn’t get to sound the siren, but all-in-all it was great fun. She’d do it again.

Prairie State had been borrowing trucks from fire departments in the area, according to Chad Vliestra, program coordinator. Having the truck will make a difference for the program that offers two fire science academies a year, state certification programs, an associate’s degree in fire science and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training.  

Vliestra said the truck will get a workout. While PSC may still call on fire departments for assistance, he won’t be asking for a truck every weekend. 

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