In recognition of the critical role the Utica Fire Protection District plays in servicing Starved Rock State Park and its local community, State Senator Sue Rezin (R-Morris) assisted in securing grant funding totaling $59,212 from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to purchase new equipment for the fire district.
"The Utica Fire Protection District plays a vital role for both Starved Rock and its local community," said Sen. Rezin. "The equipment bought with this grant money will help the Utica Fire District better protect our communities."
Using the awarded funds, the Utica Fire Protection District has now purchased a DJI M-300 drone and four Motorola APX 8000 dual-band portable radios. The DJI M-300 drone or unmanned aerial device (UAV) has the latest technology to assist fire departments with search and rescue and firefighting operations. The M300 has an impressive 55-minute flight time and carries the Zenmuse H20T camera that includes a thermal camera, a 20X optical zoom camera, and a laser rangefinder.
"This grant dramatically improves our response capabilities at Starved Rock State Park and surrounding parks. The UAV will be made available to all agencies across the state and will reduce the time needed to locate missing individuals during routine searches and assist command staff in natural disasters," said Utica Fire Chief Ben Brown. "One of the biggest challenges that we face during our responses to Starved Rock and the surrounding parks is communication. This grant also assisted us in purchasing four portable radios that will drastically increase our communication abilities with IL Conservation Police and other responding agencies."
The four Motorola radios can communicate with their local dispatch center and with the Illinois State Police and Illinois Conservation Police who utilize the Starcom radio network. These radios combine both VHF and digital (Starcom) radio capabilities into one radio, allowing first responders to easily communicate with all members on a call without switching between radios.
"The fire district is very thankful for all the time and hard work that Senator Rezin has dedicated to improving our responses at the park over the past few years," said Chief Brown. "We look forward to continuing to work with the senator in the future."
According to the Utica Fire Protection District, all of the equipment has been purchased and is already in service.