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Fire district buys drone, radios with $59K grant

Sen. Sue Rezin assisted in securing funds for new tech

The Utica Fire Protection District will buy a drone and four dual-band portable radios after securing state grant funding with assistance from state Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris.

“The Utica Fire Protection District plays a vital role for both Starved Rock and its local community,” Rezin said in a news release. “The equipment bought with this grant money will help the Utica Fire District better protect our communities.”

The grant, which totaled $59,212, will be used to purchase a DJI M-300 drone and four Motorola APX 8000 dual-band portable radios. The drone has the latest technologies to aid in search and rescue and firefighting operations, with a 55-minute flight time.

It carries a Zenmuse H20T camera that includes a thermal camera, a 20X optical zoom camera and a laser rangefinder.

“This grant dramatically improves our response capabilities at Starved Rock State Park and surrounding parks. The UAV will be made available to all agencies across the state and will reduce the time needed to locate missing individuals during routine searches and assist command staff in natural disasters,” Utica Fire Chief Ben Brown said in a news release. “One of the biggest challenges that we face during our responses to Starved Rock and the surrounding parks is communication. This grant also assisted us in purchasing four portable radios that will drastically increase our communication abilities with IL Conservation Police and other responding agencies.”

The Motorola radios will be used to communicate with dispatch, along with the Illinois State Police and Conservation Police; these radios combine both VHF and digital radio capabilities in one radio, allowing easier communications for first responders.

“The fire district is very thankful for all the time and hard work that Sen. Rezin has dedicated to improving our responses at the park over the past few years,” Brown said. “We look forward to continuing to work with the senator in the future.”

This equipment has already been purchased and is now in service.

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