Current Weather


For the third time, Rend Lake College has been chosen as a recipient of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration’s Brookwood-Sago Grant.

RLC received $133,240 in funding to provide training to mine rescue officials and mine rescue teams, with a focus on mine fire brigade training and increased preparedness for those participating for mine emergencies.

“The current award has three main parts,” explained Dean of Applied Science Chris Nielsen.

“First, in collaboration with Southern Illinois University Carbondale Saluki Miners we will train a novice mine rescue team using the classes developed during the first grant. Second, we will conduct a four-day training session to train mine rescue officials and to hold a mine rescue contest with the Saluki Miners participating with other novice teams. The contest will be designed, and judged, by the newly trained mine rescue officials. Third, we will train mine fire brigades and mine rescue teams in the facilities developed in the previous grants.”


Rend Lake College receives $133,240 from the Brookwood-Sago Grant to help train mine rescue and fire teams. Click on the image for a larger version.
(Nathan Wheeler/Marketing)

Selected by the MSHA, RLC was one of six organizations to receive funds as part of the grant. In total, the Brookwood-Sago Grant totaled $1 million to develop training programs and materials that support mine rescue and mine emergency preparedness for underground mines.

“The common thread is the training of fire brigades and rescue teams in realistic fire scenarios. We use everything from theatrical smoke to real smoke. Firefighters feel the heat and wrestle the hose in dark smoky environments. It’s as close to real life as we can make it. The benefit is cohesive teams which know their equipment and what to expect in the event they are called upon to fight a real mine fire,” Nielsen said.

A provision in the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006 established the Brookwood-Sago grant program to promote mine safety while honoring the 25 men who died in Brookwood, Ala., in 2001 at the Jim Walter Resources #5 mine, and in Buchannon, W.Va., in 2006 at the Sago Mine.

RLC was first awarded the grant in 2009 for a total of $50,000. The money was used to train mine fire brigades and rescue teams as well as to develop a curriculum that could be used to train mine rescue teams. In 2012, RLC received $93,000 from the grant. In addition to training, that award allowed for the construction of a three-story surface firefighting facility, built from shipping containers on the west side of campus.

For more information about the Brookwood-Sago grant, contact Nielsen at 618-437-5321, ext. 1292.

Other recipients of the 2016 grants are as follows:

·         The Colorado School of Mines in Golden is receiving $240,024 in funding to provide quality training to mine rescue teams. The training will focus on enhancing the knowledge and skills for mine rescue teams and incident command staff in the areas of technical rescue, communications and decision making during mine emergencies.

·         The Colorado Department of Natural Resources in Denver is receiving $217,877 in funding to provide advanced mine rescue skills training for all underground mines and mine emergency prevention in Colorado.

·         The University of Arizona in Tucson is receiving $187,054 in funding to improve self-escape skills in response to underground mine emergency events by use of virtual reality gaming.

·         The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy in Big Stone Gap is receiving $50,000 in funding to develop training materials and provide training on mine emergency preparedness and mine emergency prevention.

·         West Virginia University in Morgantown is receiving $171,805 in funding to foster the development and implementation of enhanced and realistic mine rescue training exercises that combine the efforts and abilities of a mine rescue team and fire brigade responding to a simulated coal mine fire emergency and locating missing personnel.