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Article updated: 12/14/2012 4:48 PM

Streamwood gets grant to hire 3 firefighters

By Steve Zalusky

The Streamwood Fire Department will hire three new firefighters as a result of receiving a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The awarding of the grant to two Illinois fire departments was announced Thursday by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin. Streamwood and Taylorville received a total of $849,000 in grants, with Streamwood receiving $627,000.

Funding is provided through the Department of Homeland Security's Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program.

The SAFER program seeks to enhance a department's ability to maintain 24-hour staffing and ensures that the community has adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards.

Streamwood Fire Chief Chris Clark said he was pleased at the news.

"It's a good opportunity for us to improve our service to the community," he said. "So we're very excited about it."

He noted that in 2009 through attrition the department reduced its authorized strength by three people. In addition, the department reduced its stations from three to two in 2010.

The department received a similar grant in 2006 to hire two firefighters, with a five-year commitment to keep them on staff. Those two, Clark said, are still with the department.

As for the three new hires provided by this year's SAFER grant, Clark said the department is only obligated to keep them on staff for two years. But he is hoping that an economic upturn will allow the department to maintain those positions on its own.

"We're hopeful that the economy will continue to recover and we'll be in a better position to support those positions at that point," he said.

With the new hires, Clark said the department is also looking at possibly reopening the fire station at 1204 S. Park Blvd.

"We're going to evaluate the feasibility of putting staff in that station and reorganizing our deployment model," Clark said.

Clark credited two firefighter paramedics with developing the case for awarding Streamwood the grant: Firefighter/Paramedic Jeff Patenaude and Firefighter/Paramedic Chris Tierney.

"These guys deserve credit," Clark said. "They spent a lot of time putting this (grant application) together."

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