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Calumet Fire Department

From left: Calumet City Firefighter Nick Panczuk, Capt. James Hilliard and Engineer David Neibert stand in front of a Calumet City firetruck. 

CALUMET CITY — Four Illinois fire departments have received a total of $610,000 in grant money to improve their stations and get equipment that will increase firefighters' safety.

The four fire departments receiving the funds include Calumet City, Flossmoor, Crete and South Holland, Rep. Robin Kelly announced.

The Calumet City Fire Department was awarded a $142,000 grant, which will go toward updating two of its fire station's ventilation systems to air out toxic vehicle exhaust fumes for the safety of the stations' personnel. In addition, the department will use the funds to buy 15 sets of firefighter turnout gear and 38 helmets.

“Our firefighters readily put their lives on the line protecting our families and communities,” Kelly said. “They need and deserve the most modern technology available to save the lives of others and increase their safety.”

Deputy Chief Peter Bendinelli said the grant money will increase the health and safety of Calumet City firefighters. 

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"The AFG program is very important to departments like Calumet City who have a limited budget and can display the need for their requests," Bendinelli said. "Without this program, many of these projects may not have been possible without posing an increased burden on the citizens. It is also important to the local fire departments that we keep getting the continued support from federally elected officials such as Sen. Dick Durbin, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, and Kelly help ensure that these programs are funded."

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He said the Calumet City Fire Department previously had been rewarded multiple grants through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program, which provided the department with a mobile training simulator, specialized training props, personal protective equipment and a special response vehicle.

In 2018, the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program made $315 million directly available to fire department, state fire training academies and emergency medical service organizations to buy equipment, emergency vehicles and fund training.

The Flossmoor Fire Department received $222,345 and will buy emergency breathing equipment, replacing equipment that was nearly 20 years old.

The Crete Township Fire Protection District was awarded $52,380 and plans to install fire station vehicle exhaust systems. South Holland Fire Department was given $193,409 to buy new air packs.

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Night Crime/Breaking News Reporter

Anna Ortiz is the breaking news/crime reporter for The Times, covering crime, politics, courts, investigative news and more. She is a Region native and graduate of Ball State University with a major in journalism and minor in anthropology.