Champaign City Council approves firefighter training grant

By Angelica Lavito

Champaign City Council voted 8-0 to accept grant funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to train Champaign Fire Department firefighters at its meeting Tuesday night. Council member Deb Feinen was absent.

The city accepted the terms of the grant, adjusted the FY 2014 to 15 budget to reflect the funds and entered into contracts with the Illinois Fire Service Institute for the firefighters’ training.

“I think that during tough economic times it’s difficult with a lot of our city employees, in particular our public safety, to have professional development,” said Mayor, Don Gerard. “In my mind, it’s a good day when we are not only bringing back some of our federal tax dollars to the city for the good of our community and also getting the professionals who we employ to keep us safe, better trained and prepared to do so.” 

FEMA awarded Champaign an Assistance for Firefighters grant worth $245,200 to fund training of Office of Illinois State Fire Marshal Fire Officer I certification for firefighters.

In total, FEMA provided $220,680 in funds and Champaign’s matching share amounted to $24,520.

Currently, 15 of the Champaign Fire Department’s 37 officers have Fire Officer I certification, according to the study session report. The grant will allow the remaining 22 officers to receive the certification, which promotes leadership in firefighters.

The council amended the general fund to adjust the budget by $220,680 thanks to FEMA’s financial contribution. 

The firefighters will undergo a Fire Officer I training program at the Illinois Fire Service Institute. The council voted to enter into five contracts with the institute for the price of $22,500, and $180,000 will be spent on personnel overtime.

The remaining $42,700 will be used to fund make-up classes for the certification program. 

Angelica can be reached at [email protected].