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SPRINGFIELD – Rank-and-file Chicago firefighters would have greater oversight and control of funding intended for their department under legislation passed by the Illinois Senate today.

Sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham and State Representative Fran Hurley, House Bill 5197 would establish a Foreign Fire Insurance Board, an entity that will be entrusted with the expenditure of fire insurance fees collected exclusively from insurance companies whose corporate headquarters are located outside of Illinois.

Currently, the City of Chicago receives about $5 million in fire insurance fees, which are directly deposited into the city’s general fund. HB 5197 would transfer control of those funds to a newly-established fire insurance board and require the City of Chicago to turn over fire insurance revenue to the board.

“The legislation streamlines the flow of tax dollars and allows Chicago firefighters to determine how revenue intended for their own department is used,” said Cunningham, a Democrat representing parts of Chicago and the Southwest Suburbs. “The funding will now go directly to fire suppression instead of being spread throughout the city budget.”

Advocates of the legislation say it will improve Chicago Firefighter’s safety and effectiveness through enhancements in their equipment and training. The funds will be used to purchase of items such personal protective gear, tools, fire apparatus, enhanced training and for firehouse improvements.

“This newly-created board will draw on the knowledge, experience, and expertise of the rank-and-file to purchase items that allow them to safely operate in the many hazardous situations they routinely encounter,” said Robert Tebbens, Director of Political Action for the Chicago Firefighters’ Union. “It will also give their families confidence that they will return home safely.”

Under current law, the Chicago Fire Department is the only fire department in the state that does not have a fire insurance board.

The fire insurance board would consist of the department’s fire commissioner and six elected trustees.

HB 5197 now heads to the House for approval.

Category: Press Releases

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Springfield Office:
Senator 18th District
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