ALTON - The Alton Fire Department recently purchased a piercing nozzle for just under $1,000, which is the amount they received from a grant through Illinois American Water.

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The nozzle features a metal point, which can puncture through several materials, including light gauge metal commonly used in trailers as well as ceilings and floors. Alton Fire Chief Bernie Sebold said the nozzle can be used to protect firefighters from dangerous situations. It can pierce through the hoods of vehicles to attack engine bay fires, and blast attic and basement fires by going through floors and ceilings. Once through, the nozzle sprays water in a 360-degree fashion.

Sebold said the nozzle will see limited use within the department, but said it would take the place of larger, less-efficient tools, which would cause more damage and more risk to firefighters involved in tackling situations.

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"It's another tool in our toolbox, which we can use for special situations - especially for situations like basement or attic fires being too hot for firefighters to get to as well as rail cars and tractor-trailers with unknown cargo inside," he said.

That grant money came from Illinois American Water. Illinois American Water External Affairs Manager Karen Cotton said the company works closely with fire departments across the state and assists in their work within the community saving lives and property.

"We work closely with them all the time," she said. "We work to check the fire hydrants and, as a private water company, do what we can to assist local fire departments. We started this grant program in 2010 and have awarded as much as $417,000 through 425 grants."

Illinois American Water works with as many as 100 fire departments across the state, including local departments such as QEM, Godfrey, Cottage Hills and Alton. The Alton Fire Department applied for the grant in 2017. Sebold said he will apply for a similar grant in the future in order to purchase a second such nozzle for the other fire station.

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