UTICA, IL – State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris) was on hand Friday for a grant check presentation from Exelon to the Utica Fire Protection District that aims to provide for a better means of communication between emergency agencies in the Starved Rock State Park area.
Gary Gbur and Ed Rogers, Fire Chief and Assistant Chief of the Utica Fire Protection District respectively, said that the Utica Fire District faces unique challenges when it comes to agency communication in the event of an emergency at Starved Rock State Park.
“Locally we at the Utica Fire District face the unique challenges presented by Starved Rock State Park,” Chief Gbur said. “The Fire District has one radio type, the park staff has another, on a different frequency, and conservation police operate on an entirely different radio band. We are often forced to rely on cellular phones in an attempt to coordinate our respective responses. Because of the terrain features of Starved Rock, cellular communications are at best limited and if one is in a canyon area, it is simply not available.”
Assistant Chief Rogers said that the grant from Exelon will allow the Fire District to purchase handheld radios that are fully compatible with the Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police, Illinois State Police, and multiple state and local response agencies without having to use a combination of frequencies, land lines or cell phones.
“This radio type works anywhere and isn’t negatively affected by terrain, other radio channels or outside interference, thereby enhancing personnel’s response and better protecting the safety of our responders and the general public as a whole,” he said.
Sen. Rezin was instrumental in working with the Utica Fire Protection District and Exelon to meet the unique emergency situation needs at Starved Rock State Park. After she met with the Utica Fire Protection District to discuss their needs, Sen. Rezin then spoke with Exelon about their safety grant program and encouraged the Utica Fire Protection District to apply for the grant.
“I’m extremely pleased that the Utica Fire Protection District will be able to purchase equipment needed to provide a more effective response should an emergency occur,” Sen. Rezin said. “They will be able to better communicate with other agencies and the equipment will provide a greater assurance to visitors of the park as well.”
The grant was awarded for $3000, and it will help the Utica Fire Protection District inch closer to their $8000 goal to purchase all the equipment that they need.