SPRINGFIELD, IL – Shortly after a devastating fire destroyed a Rural Pope County Fire Protection District fire station in late July, the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) sent out a call for donations of fire equipment that could help the southern Illinois fire department recover. This week, help is on the way as a building, fire truck and firefighting equipment donated by fire departments in northern and central Illinois are being transported to Pope County.
The July 25 arson fire destroyed one of only four fire stations used to cover a large portion of rural Pope County, in the southeastern part of Illinois. The fire protection district lost virtually everything in the building, including fire trucks and firefighting equipment, as well as losing the building.
“The fire services are always eager to help their fellow firefighters, especially during difficult times, so we knew they would step forward with equipment donations,” said State Fire Marshal Dave Foreman. “Our office has a fire equipment exchange program to help link up surplus fire equipment with departments in need, which has been very successful in helping struggling departments. I’m so pleased with the generosity demonstrated by these fire departments and know these donations will help the Rural Pope County Fire Protection District protect their residents.”
Shortly after the fire, OSFM sent an email to all fire departments in Illinois informing them of Rural Pope County FPD’s loss and seeking donations or loans of equipment. Donated equipment from the Oak Forest Fire Department (FD), Glenwood FD, Rural Palatine FPD, Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) 24 Fire Chief’s Association Haz-Mat Team, Braidwood Volunteer FD and Effingham FD was collected in Oak Forest on Wednesday for shipment south. The Illinois Department of Transportation is donating the use of three trucks and IDOT drivers to transport the items from Oak Forest to the fire department in Golconda. The donated equipment should arrive in Golconda on Thursday.
More than 300 items were donated to the Rural Pope County FPD, ranging from large items such as a building and fire truck to other necessary firefighting equipment such as hoses, generators, helmets and protective gear.
“As firefighters, it’s just the nature of our job that we help others in their time of need, and this was an opportunity to help our brother firefighters in southern Illinois,” said Oak Forest Fire Chief Lindsay Laycoax, whose department donated an unused building and other equipment. “I’m glad we had the ability to send our unused equipment to Pope County and help them get back into service.”
Laycoax noted that his department already had a connection with the Rural Pope County FPD, having previously sold the southern Illinois department one of the fire trucks that was destroyed in the July fire
OSFM started the Fire and Administrative Equipment Exchange Program in October 2003 to help connect surplus fire equipment with Illinois fire departments in need. Donating departments post surplus equipment ready for donation on the OSFM’s website at www.state.il.us/osfm. Departments can then check the site for needed equipment and contact the donor directly for more information. Since its inception, more than 200 fire departments have donated approximately 10,000 pieces of equipment to more than 150 fire departments.