Sycamore fire suits up

By Dave Gomez

The Sycamore Fire Department will get a new wardrobe thanks to a $31,600 grant from the federal Department of Homeland Security.

Sycamore Fire Chief Bill Riddle said the department will buy personal protective equipment, including turnout gear and possibly new helmets for about 20 firefighters.

U.S. Rep. Dennis Hastert presented the department’s grant earlier this month as part of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, which provides 90 percent of funding to those departments that receive the grant.

“It is a credit to the Sycamore Fire Department that its application was chosen for funding,” Hastert said.

The funding will help buy needed replacement gear, Riddle said.

Some of the department’s gear is between 12 and 14 years old, Riddle said. As new gear was purchased, older gear was handed down the ranks. Many firefighters have never received new gear.

“This grant will enable the entire fire department to be outfitted in up-to-date coats and bunker pants,” Riddle said.

The grant is the first the department has received from the program, although they have applied three times before, Riddle said.

In spring, the department filled out an application detailing their equipment and program needs, Riddle said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency reviews the grants. If the application fits the current funding criteria, grants are awarded on a prioritized basis.

“We had a definite need and FEMA helped us with that,” Riddle said.

Sycamore was one of 343 departments nationwide to receive money in the latest round of grants.

The Department of Homeland Security is expected to award about 8,000 grants worth more than $750 million for fire department assistance this year.