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Sycamore getting new fire engine thanks to FEMA

Published: Sunday, July 27, 2014 11:27 p.m. CST

SYCAMORE – Sycamore Fire Department is replacing a 35-year-old fire engine with a modern one, thanks to a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Sycamore received $384,750 in funding Thursday from FEMA along with seven other Illinois communities. Overall, FEMA awarded $1.6 million Assistance to Firefighters Grants to fire departments and fire protection districts in Sycamore, Anna, Pekin, Deer Creek, Homer Glen, Nebo, Forest Park and Mount Olive.

In Sycamore, the grant will pay for 95 percent of the cost to purchase a new $405,000 fire engine. The city of Sycamore will pay for the remaining $20,250 using funds from the capital budget, said Sycamore Fire Chief Pete Polarek.

"We feel very fortunate to have been selected," he said. "This certainly will be a big assistance to the fire department to update and replace some aging equipment."

The new fire engine, which the fire department expects to receive in at least nine months, will replace a fire engine that has fewer safety features, including an open seating area that posed a risk for firefighters in dangerous weather conditions, Polarek said. That fire engine is only used when firefighters are responding to multiple calls simultaneously or in case one of the two other fire engines breaks down, he said.

The typical life of a fire engine is 25 years, spending 15 years on the front line and 10 years on reserve, Polarek said.

Polarek said this is the largest Assistance to Firefighters Grant the Sycamore Fire Department has received. Two years ago, it received the grant for a new fire hose and other tools. More than 10 years ago, it received a small grant for structural fire gear.

"The grant is competitive," Polarek said. "Not everybody receives a grant."

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