The Evanston Fire Department announced the award of a $1.4 million grant for radio equipment that will improve communication among 16 area fire departments.

Evanston spearheaded the multi-community effort to secure the funding, which was awarded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

The grant will provide 16 area fire departments with upgraded radio equipment ensuring compatibility and facilitating improved cooperation among law enforcement, fire, emergency medical services and other local, state and federal first responders.

The grant will also allow the departments to implement Motorola’s APX system, which allows for real-time tracking of first responders, helping dispatch resources efficiently and saving time during emergencies.

“I’m proud of the Evanston Fire Department’s outstanding leadership in securing this grant, which will provide first responders in Evanston and surrounding communities with the tools they need to communicate effectively and save lives,” said Mayor Stephen Hagerty.

“This advanced technology will enhance the already strong partnership that exists between local fire departments in our area, improving public safety throughout the region.”

The $1,440,218 grant will be shared by the Evanston Fire Department and 15 other fire departments in the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) Division 3, a partnership of suburban fire departments and the Regional Emergency Dispatch Center that serve Chicago’s north and northwest suburbs.

The grant amount may be adjusted upward pending ongoing discussions with FEMA. Evanston’s share of the grant funding is currently estimated to be $237,000.

Senator Tammy Duckworth, Representative Jan Schakowsky and Representative Brad Schneider all wrote letters in support of the departments’ grant application.

“Congratulations to the Evanston Fire Department and the 15 surrounding departments in MABAS District 3,” said Rep. Schakowsky. “All of us depend on firefighters for safety and these funds will give them the resources they need to protect us. I am proud to have played a part in ensuring that federal dollars could meaningfully benefit communities here in Illinois.”

“Thank you to Senator Tammy Duckworth, Representative Jan Schakowsky, Representative Brad Schneider and Mayor Hagerty for their strong support and steadfast commitment to public safety,” said Fire Chief Brian Scott.

“This grant will provide significant technology upgrades to our emergency scene accountability and portable communications systems, in addition to enhancing safety and accountability in large-scale incidents that require inter-agency cooperation and resources.”

In accordance with the grant, participating departments will provide a combined $144,021 in matching funds, for a total project amount of $1,584,239. Participating departments include the Evanston Fire Department, Deerfield-Bannockburn Fire Department, Des Plaines Fire Department, Glenview Fire Department, Highland Park Fire Department, Lincolnwood Fire Department, Morton Grove Fire Department, Niles Fire Department, North Maine Fire Department, Northbrook Fire Department, Northfield Fire Department, Park Ridge Fire Department, Prospect Heights Fire Department, Skokie Fire Department, Wilmette Fire Department, and Winnetka Fire Department, as well as three of MABAS Division 3’s special teams: Dive, Hazardous Materials and Technical Rescue.

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