File Photo – Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker | Photo: Illinois Information Service.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said his administration has awarded $3.3 million for small equipment grants to fire departments throughout the state, including multiple in Lake and McHenry counties.

The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM) awarded 149 fire departments and EMS providers across the state with money from the 2021 Small Equipment Grant Program.

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,” Pritzker said.

“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,” Pritzker added.

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.

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The 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 governor’s office said.

The purpose is to allow eligible applicants the opportunity to purchase small equipment that they may otherwise not be able to purchase.

In Lake County, the Libertyville Fire Department was awarded $25,974 and the Winthrop Harbor Fire Department was awarded $12,924.

In McHenry County, the Marengo Fire Protection District was awarded $26,000.

“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 protecting their communities, is our top priority,” Illinois State Fire Marshal Matt Perez said.

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“The Small Equipment Grant Program helps reduce the burden on smaller departments/districts while replacing aging and sometimes failing small equipment,” Perez added.

Most Illinois fire departments, fire protection districts, township fire departments, and stand-alone, non-profit ambulance service providers were eligible to apply.

All fire departments, fire protection 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.