PEORIA, Ill.– Plans to upgrade the 182nd Airlift Wing of the Illinois Air National Guard in Peoria, are now underway.
Members of the 182nd and federal lawmakers were among a group who grabbed a shovel to signify the beginning of this project.
The branch handles medical calls and plane and structure fires that happen on the runway or terminal. The new fire crash and rescue station will give more space for crews and also help store more equipment.
“14 pieces of equipment that right now, we can only put six in here, and most of those really, we can’t get out quick enough to respond to the fire, so it’s a big day,” said Colonel Daniel McDonough, commander of the 182nd Airlift Wing.
Col. Daniel McDonough says if congress didn’t secure the funding, the project wouldn’t have been approved.
We’ve been very close several times, so that was our real frustration. We got to the point where we thought we’d get to where we are today, where we are moving dirt, that it would be taken away from us again,” said Col. McDonough.
Improvements will go toward helping crews respond to emergencies and stick to FAA standard protocols.
“If you put my fist on either side of that truck, that’s how much room you have on either side of those mirrors. So, it takes a minute to suit up, and then it takes a minute for everybody to get that truck out through the bay, then get back in the truck, and then it only takes a minute to get to the farthest reaches of the base here,” said Col. McDonough.
Peoria’s airport director says the finished project will be a great addition to the facility.
“We’re required to do a planning exercise once a year, and then every three years, we have to do a full blown exercise, full blown drill, and they do all that for us. So, it’s a tremendous support that the military provides for the civilian side,” said Gene Olson, director of Peoria International Airport.
Officials say the project should be completed by July of 2020.