ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — One nationwide company gave a generous donation to the Rockford Fire Department, which will be used to help the department’s Water Rescue Team.
“I’d say it was a shock, and a good one at that,” said District Chief Tim O’Keefe.
O’Keefe says he was surprised by the donation the department received from a Country Financial agent.
“We always need equipment and sometimes it’s not in the budget to get it, so it’s going to go a long way with helping us achieve our goals and mission,” O’Keefe said.
The $1,500 donation is part of Country Financial’s Operation Helping Heroes initiative.
The program supports active duty service members, veterans and emergency first responders achieve their goals.
With this donation, Rockford Fire purchased a spare battery, a light bar for the boat, handheld lights and an enhanced communication system.
“The biggest thing that’s going to help us maintain that efficiency is being ready to go when we’re called out,” said firefighter Brock Lanier.
Lanier has 10 years of experience on the dive team, so he knows first hand how important this donation is.
“It’s more of a safety issue, and that really…just a little bit of extra light to make sure we have the right air supply and communicate that up to the people on the boat, is invaluable,” Lanier.
“In the past, we’ve relied on our portable radios that we grab from the fire trucks, on the boat. But now, we have a base radio station so that we…got a little bit better communication, and reliable communication that we know was going to get to where it needs to go,” he continued.
O’Keefe concluded, “For me, as the chief on the shore, I need to be in constant communication with the boat, and they need to be in constant communication with me.”
Country Financial says that since the first of the year, they’ve donated more than $25,000 to first responders and service members in Winnebago and Stephenson County.