The Morris Fire Protection and Ambulance District received a $20,000 donation from Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Company to purchase new uniforms for its 10 new firefighters.
The global company runs two grain elevators in Morris and has been in the community for 20 years. It made the donation through its ADM Cares program. ADM Cares is an investment program that directs funds to initiatives and organizations that drive meaningful social, economic and environmental progress worldwide, according to a press release from ADM.
The program has three focus areas: supporting the responsible development of agriculture, improving the quality of life in ADM communities and fostering employee giving and volunteer activities.
"There are a lot of grants that are for $1,000, $2,000 or $3,000, but to get a grant for $20,000 is substantial," said Chief Tracey Steffes. "It shows the support and dedication ADM has to the community."
Steffes came across the grant opportunity when researching the company, since ADM is in partnership with Edgewater Resources as part of the future Morris marina project. Through the marina project, ADM will open another barge facility in Morris.
Steffes received the check from ADM earlier this month.
“ADM strives to make a positive difference in the communities where we live and work,” said Rich Hamilton, ADM plant superintendent in Morris. “We are proud to present this donation to the Morris Fire and Ambulance District and look forward to helping our fire department with the needed equipment to continually serve our community and keep us safe.”
The $20,000 donation will cover new outer protection jackets and pants for its 10 new part-time firefighters. One jacket is $1,200 and a pair of paints is $800, said Steffes. This will not cover new boots, helmets, gloves or face masks for the new firefighters.
Without the donation, it would have taken the fire district two budget years to get them all new gear, said Steffes.
The fire station is staffed 24-hours a day by part-time firefighters. All of the district's firefighters are part-time employees.
"Even though we employee part-time people, it still costs the same amount of money to equip them," said the chief.
Through the years, the availability of on-call firemen to arrive on scene in the middle of the day has become slim and having more firemen at the firehouse is becoming more necessary to handle increased calls. Steffes said this is because a lot of people are not allowed to leave their full-time jobs anymore for a fire call, and many have jobs out of town and can't get to town quickly.
"There used to be 10 to 12 guys that came back on a call and now we're at the point we get two to five," he said. "So we have to put on extra guys."
For 2012, Morris received 4,101 fire and EMS calls. Since 2006, the amount of calls has increased 70 to 100 calls a year.
With the 10 new part-time firefighters, the district has 53 firefighters, plus 16 EMS people who are full-time.
Four of the 10 new firefighters are currently in training at the fire academy because they are first-time firefighters. The other six are already certified firefighters, said Steffes, and therefore will be starting in-house training soon.
ADM gave the district a $3,000 grant about 10 years ago, as well.
"They are not just a business who is taking. They have a vested interest in the community," said Steffes.