Springfield, Ill- The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM) announced the recipients of the 2021 Small Equipment Grant Program. Douglas County: Tuscola Fire Department- $24,412.50. Moultrie County: Dora Township Fire Protection District- $24,830; Sullivan Fire Protection District- $26,000. Piatt County: Cerro Gordo Fire and Rescue- $25,000; Monticello Fire & Rescue Department- $22,398
A total of $3.3 million was awarded to 149 fire departments/districts and EMS providers across the state. The OSFM received 448 applications, requesting around $10.5 million in funding for this grant period.
“First responders put their lives on the line every single day to do the critical work of protecting Illinois’ communities. I am pleased to award $3.3 million in small equipment grants to 149 fire departments and EMS providers throughout the state, providing critical funding that will enable the purchase of new firefighting and ambulance equipment,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “On behalf of all Illinois residents, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to first responders for the work they do and their ongoing efforts to maintain the safety of our families and communities.”
The Small Equipment Grant Program was established to provide grants of up to $26,000 each for the purchase of small firefighting and ambulance equipment. This program is an innovative approach to a problem that has long caused difficulties for the fire departments and not-for profit ambulance services in Illinois, particularly those that have hardships in generating the necessary revenue for small equipment. The purpose is to allow eligible applicants the opportunity to purchase small equipment that they may otherwise not be able to purchase.
“Departments have had to make tough financial decisions, especially this year during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ensuring our first responders in Illinois have properly functioning lifesaving equipment they need to perform their duties safely, while protection their communities, is our top priority. The Small Equipment Grant Program helps reduce the burden on smaller departments/districts while replacing aging and sometimes failing small equipment,” says Illinois State Fire Marshal Matt Perez.
“The funding we received from the Office of the State Fire Marshal’s Small Equipment Grant Program will help our department replace aging turn out gear. Like numerous other departments across the state, finding sources of funding has been tough. The new gear will allow our firefighters to operate safely on the firegrounds and provide them peace of mind while they are protecting the community,” says McLeansboro Fire Chief Jim Morris.
“Over the past several years, our hand-held radios have been consistently failing on the fireground, where they are most needed. This was putting our firefighters in great danger, since it was likely that they would not be able to communicate using these radios in an emergency situation. With the high cost to replace the defective equipment, coupled with operating on a tight budget, it was uncertain when (or if) they would be replaced. Now that we have been awarded the Small Equipment Grant from the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal, our radios will be replaced with new radios that meet the NFPA standards for functioning during fireground operations. This will have a tremendous impact on our department, both directly through the purchase of new radios, and by allowing department funds to be used on other necessary safety and life-saving equipment. We are very grateful to the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal for selecting our department to receive this grant,” says Rock Falls Fire Department Captain Kyle Sommers.
“This grant award means a great deal to our department as we are a smaller district with a smaller budget. It is imperative that we actively seek grants for equipment purchases and replacements due to skyrocketing cost of fire equipment and related insurance costs. Building, grounds and apparatus upkeep are so very expensive and often our fire districts tax supported budget alone cannot support some of our needs which are necessary to protecting the citizens in our area. We are so very grateful to the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal in choosing our agency this year and for recognizing the needs of the fire service throughout Illinois,” says South Wheatland Fire Protection District Chief Thomas Williams.
Most Illinois fire departments, fire protections districts, township fire departments, and stand-alone, nonprofit ambulance service providers were eligible to apply. All fire departments, fire protections districts and township fire department applicants were required to have participated in the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) for a minimum of two years prior to applying.