Aging Metro-East firefighting gear replaced through state grants

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by Chris Stanford / News 4 | @StanfordKMOV

KMOV.com

Posted on March 3, 2014 at 11:55 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 4 at 12:00 AM

 (KMOV) – Illinois grants will pay to replace some aging firefighter gear, but more funding will be needed.

Fourteen departments in Madison and St. Clair Counties will be receiving up to $26,000 in state grant money to purchase safety equipment, protective clothing, breathing apparatus and other tools for firefighters.

Wood River Fire Chief Steve Alexander says over time, gear loses its effectiveness.   According to the National Fire Protection Association, gear should be retired after ten years.  Alexander says most of Wood River’s firefighting gear is about a decade old. 

“I’m sure there are a lot of departments that are in worse shape than we are,” says Chief Alexander.

Wood River firefighter Brian Crawford credits a newer coat and pants with saving him from serious injury and says if he would’ve been wearing 10 to 15 year-old gear during a house fire he had to be pulled from, the outcome would’ve been different.

“Most certainly I’d have some burns on my shoulder and back,” says Crawford.

Alexander says funding simply isn’t there to replace every piece of department gear that’s wearing out.

“It gets to be costly,” he says.

The state grant will provide Wood River with $11,400.  Alexander says that amount is enough for about six new sets of gear.  Before long he says more than 20 sets will need to be replaced.  If gear becomes too dangerous to use, Alexander says he’ll have to ask the city for emergency funds.

Here’s a list of all 14 fire districts in Madison and St. Clair Counties awarded funding for fire equipment:

St. Clair

Brooklyn Fire Protection District

$26,000

St. Clair

Church Road Fire District

$25,000

St. Clair

Fairmont City Fire Department

$26,000

St. Clair

French Village Fire Protection District

$14,787

St. Clair

Marissa Fire Protection District

$13,290

St. Clair

St. Louis Downtown Airport Fire Department

$23,965

St. Clair

St. Libory Fire Protection District

$20,040

Madison

Alton Fire Department

$24,919

Madison

Bethalto Fire Department

$25,000

Madison

Cottage Hills Fire Protection District

$26,000

Madison

Hamel Fire Protection District

$11,891

Madison

New Douglas Fire Protection District

$12,318

Madison

Wood River Fire Department

$11,400

Madison

Worden Fire Department

$15,493

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