Illinois firefighters could cash in on new legislation

Governor Quinn visited the Quad Cities International Airport on Saturday to sign legislation that will help Illinois fire departments purchase firefighting vehicles.

Governor Quinn signed two bills into law that will expand an 11-year-old program called the Fire Truck Revolving Loan Program. It’s a program that has given out 92 loans and over $23 million to Illinois fire departments across the state.

The loans help fire departments purchase or upgrade their firefighting vehicles, such as fire trucks, brush trucks, and fire engines. They can purchase these vehicles and pay the loans back with little to no interest.

One of the bills Quinn signed will increase the loan ceiling cap for zero and low-interest loans that fire departments could borrow. The old limit on these loans was $250,000, but the new law raises the limit to $350,000 per fire department or fire protection district.

“It helps our firefighters, and our fire departments, make sure they can make the investments they need to get 21st century equipment and training in order to make sure that we protect the people,” said Governor Quinn.

The second bill signed by the governor will allow a $35 additional fee for serious traffic violations to remain as a funding source for the Fire Truck Revolving Loan Program through Jan. 1, 2020. The fee was originally set to expire as a funding source for the program on Oct. 13, 2014.

Jeffery Bell, Assistant Fire Chief of the Clover Township Fire Department, said the loan program helped them buy a fire truck that they otherwise, couldn’t have afforded.

“The very first year we got it it saved out fire district over 12,000 dollars,” said Bell.

“It makes me feel very proud to know that somebody has my back, that somebody’s out there. Sometimes when you’re in a fire department you get the idea [that] you’re a small fish in a big sea. [Then] things like this happen today and it makes you feel very good,” Bell said.

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