PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) —The support for local fire stations is continuing throughout the city.
Firefighters and community members gathered in front of Peoria Fire Department Station 4 Wednesday late afternoon, advocating for the station and the people in the area it serves.
The Peoria City Council voted 6-5 on a proposal earlier this month to cut two Peoria Fire Department engine companies, Engine Four in District One and Engine 20 in District Five.
Community members who came out called Station 4 one of the longest fire stations in the city.
Dwayne Williams, a Peoria resident, said he organized the demonstration to show local firefighters how much they matter to those they serve.
“These guys are our heroes,” Williams said. “They put their lives on the line and are the first ones to make sure everyone is protected.”
Williams said there are many senior citizens with underlying medical conditions living in the city’s south end who depend on first responders’ fast response times. He said cutting Station 4 could endanger more lives than protect.
“To lose this house [Station 4] means it would put more responsibility on the house that’s 15-20 minutes away,” Williams said. “If someone were having a heart attack, 10-15 minutes may be a little too late and somebody would lose a loved one.”
Jackie Moore, one of the area’s residents, said she’s lived in the area for decades. She calls the men and women working at Station 4 her family and credits them for saving countless lives.
“They’re part of the community,” Moore said. “I’ve been here since 1974 and they’ve been so helpful and so caring and always here and always there when you need them. So, we’re going to hate to see them go.”
Williams said he’s disappointed in the city council’s decision Tuesday evening to loan $4 million to bail out the Civic Center, but not have a better option for the two fire stations getting cut.
“The Civic Center will attract people from East Peoria, Washington, to Metamora, Chicago and all over the world depending on what concert it is,” Williams said. “But these jobs here are for the neighborhood, the people that live here right here in the heart of the city of Peoria. So their jobs are worth saving.”
Firefighters at the demonstration said the will be another fire station constructed in District One sometime in 2021, but they said the area will still be down one fire engine. Williams said he plans to have another support gathering for local firefighters before the station officially closes Oct. 1.
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