Governor Pat Quinn continued his commitment to increasing public safety in Illinois by signing several new laws that will help local fire departments purchase equipment and assist universities in installing sprinkler systems in student dormitories. Legislators, Illinois Fire Marshall Larry Matkaitis and representatives from the Chicago Fire Department joined the governor at today's ceremony.
"We must support our first responders whenever possible so they can continue to keep us safe," Governor Quinn said. "With thousands of students returning to college in the coming weeks and our ongoing response to historic drought conditions, fire prevention efforts are more important than ever."
Senate Bill 3373, sponsored by Sen. Terry Link (D-Waukegan) and Rep. Eddie Jackson Sr. (D-East St. Louis) will help fire districts across Illinois by consolidating and streamlining state funds used to finance local equipment purchases like trucks, ambulances and station upgrades. Under this legislation, three state funds used to support revolving loans for local emergency equipment purchases will be combined and jointly administered by the Office of the State Fire Marshall and the Illinois Finance Authority. This consolidation will simplify these loan programs, promote the efficient use of state resources and result in a larger and more stable base of support for local fire protection districts. The law is effective Jan. 1.
"This law is a great example of what can happen when two agencies work together to increase efficiency and help local communities by making tax dollars go farther for the people of Illinois," said Matkaitis.
House Bill 5283, sponsored by Rep. Don Moffitt (R-Galesburg) and Sen. John Sullivan (D-Quincy) will encourage fire protection districts to buy equipment built in Illinois by providing for lower interest rates on loans to purchase certain fire vehicles that are partly or fully manufactured in state. If a vehicle is fully built in Illinois and meets other requirements, the local fire district could qualify for a 0% interest loan. The law was supported by the Illinois Association of Fire Chiefs and passed the General Assembly unanimously. It goes into effect immediately.
House Bill 4757 also sponsored by Rep. Don Moffitt (R-Galesburg) and Sen. Ed Maloney (D-Chicago) will ensure all post-secondary schools in Illinois with dormitory housing have sprinklers installed by 2014. While the Fire Sprinkler Dormitory Act of 2004 required all dormitories to have sprinkler systems installed by Jan. 1, 2013, planning and financing complications have prevented some public and private universities from meeting this deadline. This legislation requires these institutions to submit a full compliance plan this fall to the State Fire Marshall detailing their actions to have sprinklers installed in their dormitories no later than Sep. 1, 2014. Institutions who do not meet this deadline will face a $1,000 a day fine.
The governor today also signed House Bill 4715, sponsored by Rep. Lisa Dugan (D-Kankakee) and Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), which streamlines the testing and hiring process of local firefighters and makes other technical changes to examination procedures. The law passed the General Assembly unanimously and is effective immediately.