Rock Falls Fire Department receives grant for communications equipment

SPRINGFIELD — The aging hand-held radios used by the Rock Falls Fire Department have not always been reliable, says Kyle Sommers, captain with the department. A $26,000 grant for equipment upgrades from the Illinois State Fire Marshal will let the department to acquire improved communications equipment.

“Over the past several years, our hand-held radios have been consistently failing on the fireground, where they are most needed,” says Sommers in a news release. “This was putting our firefighters in great danger, since it was likely that they would not be able to communicate using these radios in an emergency situation. "

Sommers says the grant will remove that uncertainty in the field. New radios will meet National Fire Protection Association standards, which means they will function during firefighting operations.

“This will have a tremendous impact on our department, both directly through the purchase of new radios, and by allowing department funds to be used on other necessary safety and life-saving equipment. We are very grateful to the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal for selecting our department to receive this grant,” says Sommers said.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday that 149 fire departments statewide would receive grants, which totaled $3.3 million.

“First responders put their lives on the line every single day to do the critical work of protecting Illinois’ communities,” Pritzker said in issuing the grants.

The state fire marshal selected the recipients from a total of 448 applications.

State fire marshal Matt Perez says the program is meant to help fire departments and not-for-profit ambulance services to close gaps in their small equipment inventories. He said the need was great this year because departments often had to make tough financial decisions during the pandemic.

Thomson Fire Protection District in Carroll County received $23,783, and the Ogle Fire Protection District in Ogle County received $24,500.