MOLINE – Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to help local governments purchase firefighting vehicles. The law increases the maximum amount municipalities may borrow at no or low interest from the state to make these purchases. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to ensure the safety of all people in every community across Illinois.
“Firefighters shouldn’t have to worry about whether they have the equipment necessary to do their jobs,” Governor Quinn said. “This new law helps firefighters invest in modern equipment that will help them save lives.”
“I thank the Governor for making this program a priority,” State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis said. “Since the beginning of this program more than $25 million has been loaned to Illinois fire departments. This new law will increase the amount of money some of our most needy fire departments can borrow to buy fire trucks, which are much more expensive than they were 10 years ago. By increasing the maximum, our fire departments will be able to buy better equipment to do their jobs and protect the people of Illinois.”
The Office of the State Fire Marshal currently provides zero percent and low interest loans for fire trucks, engines and brush trucks through the Fire Truck Revolving Loan Program.
Senate Bill 2690, sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and State Representative Donald Moffitt (R-Gilson), increases the loan ceiling cap for zero and low-interest loans to local fire departments for the purchase of new or upgraded fire trucks, brush trucks and fire engines under the Fire Truck Revolving Loan Program. 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. The change reflects the increase in the cost of fire protection equipment since the law was last updated. The legislation is effective immediately.
“I want to commend Governor Quinn for signing this bill,” Representative Mofitt said. “This very successful program has been in place for 11 years and this increased loan cap is needed as it reflects the increased costs of a new fire truck. By signing this legislation, Governor Quinn has made it possible for many fire departments in Illinois to buy a new truck using the interest-free loan that otherwise they would not have been able to afford. The interest-free revolving loan program has been extremely important for downstate rural fire departments as they have more limited financial resources to purchase fire trucks and other needed equipment. The net result is with the Governor’s actions, Illinois becomes a safer state.”
The Fire Truck Revolving Loan Program is funded primarily through payments municipalities make on its loans, in addition to a $35 additional fee for serious traffic violations. The program is administered jointly with the Illinois Finance Authority.
Governor Quinn today also signed House Bill 4462, sponsored by Representative Moffitt and State Senator Martin Sandoval (D-Cicero), which allows the $35 additional fee for serious traffic violations to remain a funding source for the Fire Truck Revolving Loan Program through Jan. 1, 2020. The fee originally was set to expire as a funding source for the program on Oct. 13, 2014. The legislation is effective immediately.
Governor Quinn has long supported firefighters in Illinois. He expanded the revolving loan program in 2012 to allow fire departments to purchase brush trucks with no or low interest loans. The Governor invested $4 million this year to help 193 fire departments across the state purchase safety equipment, protective clothing, breathing apparatus and other tools for firefighters – almost 100 more fire departments than last year. He also signed legislation to streamline the testing and hiring process of local firefighters.