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New 182nd Airlift Wing Fire Station Construction Underway

Construction of a new fire-and-rescue house to serve the Peoria International Airport is underway. 

Congressional representatives and Illinois Air National Guard members broke ground on the nearly 18,000 square foot facility Monday.

The $7.8 million station will include new sleeping quarters and equipment storage. It replaces one built in 1992 for the 182nd Airlift Wing. That house was designed when the unit flew F-16 jets. The Peoria base now supports C-130 aircraft. Colonel Daniel McDonough commands the 182nd Airlift Wing. He said the current building is structurally sound, but too small to house all equipment and staff.

“It was designed for anywhere for 10 to 12 people to work in there, and on a drill weekend we can have upwards of 35 or 40 people in there. So, you can imagine how crowded that is,” said McDonough.

The facility will also serve the Peoria International Airport. The 182nd assumed airport fire protection duties in 2007. Col. McDonough said the new facility will improve airport emergency response times.

“This is similar to putting up another facility in the community, not just for the Air National Guard. So it’s a dual use that certainly Mr. (Gene) Olson and the airport authority’s going to benefit by us have, having a much better response,” he said.

Funding for the station was in doubt earlier this year as the Trump administration signaled money set aside for the project and other Illinois military facilities could be instead used to build the president’s border wall.

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Moline) and Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Peoria) attended the ceremony. Bustos said both worked across the aisle to secure the necessary dollars. 

“Darin LaHood and I, while our politics are different and in some cases very, very different, when it pertains to Peoria, we’re going to work together,” said Bustos. 

The new fire-and-rescue house is expected to be operational in July 2020.

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Kristin McHugh is an experienced radio journalist and nonprofit manager. Most recently, she served as executive director of the Peoria Area World Affairs Council.