MT. VERNON — Jefferson Fire Protection District has received a $26,000 grant from the state’s Small Equipment Grant Program.
Mike Huntman, chief of the JFPD, said he applied for the grant by the October, 2013, deadline and was informed of the award via an e-mail last week.
“We are absolutely delighted,” Huntman said. “This will allow us to purchase six MSA self-contained breathing apparatuses.”
The $26,000 grant is the largest awarded to fire departments in the state. Grants were awarded to 193 departments from the available $4 million. No other Jefferson County departments received grant awards.
“We used every bit of it, although we had to kick in about $250. We’re happy to do the $250. We’ll take that trade any time,” Huntman said.
“We had some air packs that were almost obsolete and need to be retired,” Huntman said, noted that some of the equipment may be close to 20 years old.
“We bought four new ones last year, so we’ll have 10 new ones. These will replace the old style SCBA’s,” he added.
“First responders need to have the right equipment and tools,” Illinois State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis stated in a news release from the governor’s office. “This grant program is a critical resource in these tight municipal budget times. The funds help local fire departments acquire basic equipment that meets current safety standards.”
The Fire Marshal’s office received nearly 400 applications requesting more than two times the total amount of grant funding available this year, the release stated.
“We’re very thankful the state does this. It allows departments like ours to make big purchases like this,” Huntman said.