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State Fire Marshal and Illinois Fire Service Institute Showcase State Efforts on Better Equipping Fire Departments and First Responders

The Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) and the Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI) hosted a forum today on better equipping fire departments and first responders in Illinois. The distinguished panelists highlighted statewide grant opportunities for gear, innovative research and resources for Illinois’ finest.

Panelists spoke at length about the partnership and how OSFM and IFSI can better equip fire departments and first responders to more effectively and safely do their jobs. Panelists included State Fire Marshal Matt Perez, IFSI Director Royal Mortenson, IFSI Director of Research Gavin Horn and Champaign Fire Department Chief Gary Ludwig.

“We are proud to partner with the Illinois Fire Service Institute. They are a world-class institution that shares our commitment to provide unparalleled service and education to our fire fighters,” said State Fire Marshal Matt Perez. “As a state agency, we look forward to continuing support of those in the field with statewide programming, grant opportunities and partnership with IFSI to ensure our first responders have the training and knowledge to safely do their jobs.”

“The IFSI-OSFM partnership goes beyond our mutually supportive and interdependent statutory responsibilities.  These two organization share a common goal and a sense of commitment to ensure Illinois 1st responders are the best trained and prepared firefighters in the world.” said IFSI Director Royal Mortenson. “OSFM and IFSI are opposite sides of the same coin—different but unable to be separated without damaging the common purpose.  I am proud of all we share and do with the OSFM.”

This year, the OSFM announced the Small Equipment Grant Program, a program established to provide grants of up to $26,000 to departments for the purchase of small firefighting and ambulance equipment to fire departments across the state.

IFSI Research, led by Dr. Gavin Horn, is pivotal for OSFM in evaluating new programmatic needs. The innovative research on cardiovascular and chemical exposure risks faced by firefighters prompted the inclusion of gear washers as acceptable purchases in this year’s grant application cycle.

“At IFSI and research institutions around the world, we’ve been studying means to reduce the impact of Firefighters’ risks from fireground exposures.” said IFSI Director of Research Gavin Horn. “Congratulations to OSFM for making it a priority to provide fire departments in the State of Illinois with opportunities to purchase equipment that will support implementation of some of these techniques and procedures.”

The forum concluded with insights from Champaign Fire Department Chief Gary Ludwig. He has over 40 years of fire, rescue and EMS experience. His applicable insights showcased how technology, research, and training can be implemented in the day-to-day operations of fire departments or responding agencies.

“It was an honor to serve on the panel with outstanding professionals in our field,” said Champaign Fire Department Chief Gary Ludwig. “We should always continue to embrace research, development, and technology to not only keep our firefighters safer but help us to better serve our communities.”

The OSFM and IFSI previously announced an intergovernmental agreement that streamlines the process for Illinois firefighters to receive state training certification through classes taken through IFSI. The agreement took effect January 1, 2018 and applied to all courses taken after that date. Additional information on the IGA can be found here.