Press Release

Sente Meets with State’s Top Fire Fighters, Votes to Restore Fire Prevention Funding


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Carol Sente, D-Vernon Hills, met with representatives from various agencies within the Illinois Fire Services Association to discuss the urgent need to release funding for fire prevention prior to a hearing before the full House of Representatives and vote on the subject Tuesday.

“When disaster strikes, we depend on our first responders to be fully trained and prepared to respond to life-threatening emergencies,” Sente said. “Withholding the funding that is available to help emergency personnel effectively and safely do their jobs is unconscionable and poses a direct threat to public health and safety.”

Legislation supported by Sente would release appropriations from the Fire Prevention Fund, which is money collected for the specific purpose of training emergency personnel and properly insuring equipment owned by intergovernmental agencies and local departments. Monies from this fund cannot be used for any other budget purposes.

In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, an intergovernmental partnership known as the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) has expanded to respond to emergencies throughout Illinois. Currently, the lack of a state budget is having the severe impact of reducing the number of firefighters, particularly volunteers, that can be trained by the Illinois Fire Service Institute and potentially limits organizations like MABAS from utilizing equipment, such as all-terrain vehicles, mobile warehouses, mobile ventilators, generators and shelters, which help provide residents with expedited relief in the aftermath of an emergency that is dire, but does not fall under a Governor declared disaster. In this instance, MABAS must rely on their own insurance, purchased through appropriations from the Fire Prevention Fund, to mobilize structural engineers, doctors, equipment and vehicles to respond to events such as the recent Galena train derailment.

Sente serves as the co-chair of the Illinois Legislative Fire Caucus and holds regular dialogues with area chiefs and firefighters focused on identifying the needs of emergency personnel.

Pictured (from left to right): Col. Royal Mortenson, Director of the Illinois Fire Institute; Carrie Clark, Port Byron Fire Department; First Deputy Fire Commissioner Charles Stewart, Chicago Fire Department; Tim Sashko, Executive Director of the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association; Jay Reardon, Chief Executive Officer, Mutual Aid Box Alarm System; State Rep. Carol Sente; Margaret Vaughn, consultant; Chief John Swann, Colona Fire Department and President of the Illinois Firefighters Association.