Two Kane County fire districts receive $400,000 in federal grants

Updated 4/23/2015 7:27 PM

The Huntley and Fox River and Countryside fire protection districts have been awarded more than $400,000 in federal funding to improve response capabilities.

They are among six Illinois communities and the only fire districts in the Northwest suburbs to receive the Federal Emergency Management Agency grants totaling $837,960, Sen. Dick Durbin's office announced this week.


Funding is provided through the Department of Homeland Security's Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program, launched after Sept. 11, 2001, to help strengthen preparedness of first responders nationwide. This year, roughly $304 million in funding has been awarded.

Huntley Fire Protection District officials plan to use the $333,023 grant to replace 45 air packs (self-contained breathing apparatus) for firefighters, Fire Chief Ken Caudle said.

"Our air packs are 13 or 14 years old, so it's perfect timing to replace them," Caudle said.

Huntley firefighters will have the new air packs this summer. The district received a firefighter safety grant several years ago, which officials used to purchase portable radios, thermal imaging cameras and other equipment, and for training.

"It wasn't nearly as much," Caudle said. "(For) those departments that are really tight on funds, this really is a big help from the federal government. It allows us to keep our firefighters properly equipped to keep them safe."

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The district has 59 full-time and 28 part-time employees, and spans 55 square miles serving Lake in the Hills, Algonquin, Hampshire, Gilberts and rural parts of Kane and McHenry Counties.

For Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District, the $103,546 grant is a first, Fire Chief Greg Benson said.

The money will be used to buy air packs for the small department comprising 32 full-time and part-time employees.

The district has eight firefighters on duty daily covering an area spanning roughly 39 square miles, including parts of Campton, St. Charles and Wayne townships, portions of the villages of Campton Hills and Wayne, and unincorporated areas within Kane County.

Benson said departments go through a long process to compete for these grants.

"The fire service changed quite dramatically after 9/11," said Benson, adding departments need that extra funding to upgrade equipment. "Any assistance that is awarded to you is definitely a help."

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