New fire engine, radios coming to Pekin Fire Department

Pekin Fire Department
Pekin Fire Department(25 News/Heart of Illinois ABC)
Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 12:29 PM CST
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PEKIN (25 NEWS) - The Pekin Fire Department is set to receive new radios and a new fire engine.

A new radio system coming throughout Tazewell County means the Pekin Fire Department is upgrading its radios.

The new radio equipment comes as part of a greater county initiative to increase communication between public safety agencies, according to a release.

Federal funding totaling $136,363 through the 2020 FEMA Assitance to Firefighters Grant program helps purchase the new radios.

“Communication is key to keeping our responders safe,” says Deputy Chief of Pekin Fire, Tony Rendleman in the release. “All Tazewell County agencies will not only be able to talk to each other for the first time, but also will be able to communicate with agencies across the river.”

“This is an important development given the current state of police, fire and EMS services.”

In 2020 the Tazewell County Emergency Telephone System (ETSB) board engaged in a bid process to replace an outdated and ineffective radio system with one which would place all agencies on the same system. Similar projects are occurring throughout the state as technologies have changed and the need for public safety agencies to work together has grown.

The City of Pekin will also have a new fire engine later this year or early 2023, dependent in part on manufacturing time.

According to Dave Bess, the Community Development Block Grant Manager for the City of Pekin, the purchase of the fire engine was made possible through the Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program which is administered by HUD. The Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program (Section 108) provides Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) recipients with the ability to leverage their annual grant allocation to access low-cost, flexible financing for economic development, housing, public facility, and infrastructure projects.

The new fire engine is funded entirely through HUD’s Section 108 program.

CDBG Manager Dave Bess describes replacing outdated fire equipment and apparatus as an “urgent need” within the fire department. However, new fire engines can have a starting cost of over half a million dollars.

“In considering the best ways to ensure and afford sufficient fire response capabilities moving forward, it was learned that many communities utilize CDBG in their Low-to-Moderate Income area to promote and enhance fire safety,” says Bess.

To ensure LMI households are largely being benefited by this purchase, the City mapped the fire districts’ service areas and calculated the overall percentage of LMI households which was shared with HUD within the application for funding. Based on this calculation, the new fire engine will primarily serve District 3, which is the Southside station located on Derby Street.

The apparatus and equipment bode well for the Pekin Fire Department as the emergency medical service level the department gives to the community increased from Intermediate Life Support (ILS) provider to Advanced Life Support (ALS) in December 2021. The department now carries additional life-saving medications and can perform additional procedures aimed at stabilizing trauma, respiratory and cardiac emergencies sooner.

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