Congresswoman Louise Slaughter secured $1.5 million from FEMA to be distributed amongst the fire departments in Monroe County.
The fire departments that have received the grant are: Laurelton, Webster, Ridge Culver, Point Pleasant, Sea Breeze, Saint Paul Boulevard, and West Webster.
After speaking with the Ridge Culver Fire Commissioner Tim Warth, it’s pretty clear that this grant was imperative. Warth says with their current communication technology, they are on borrowed time.
“We’re already parts-piece selling and parts buying and trying to find obsolete surplus equipment to keep us going right now for our existence,” said Warth. “Communications and radios are our lifeline as first responders so having functioning equipment and functioning technology is paramount.”
Captain Mark Thomas says currently if they wanted to talk to the police or EMS they would have to go through a middle person.
The new technology will consolidated the lines so the police department, fire department, EMS and public services will be on a single system, which will help with faster response times and improve the safety for the firefighters.
“To communicate on a modern system that’s reliable is huge,” said Captain Thomas. “You just can’t replace good communication on a fire ground. If you look at any injury reports, that’s where firefighters get hurt from lack of communication.
This is now the federal and state requirements for all communication systems. Every department in Monroe County is required to transition by January of 2020.
Without this grant, Warth says it wouldn’t be possible. Other than the multi-band technology, the funding will primarily be used to purchase over 300 portable radios, equipped with speaker microphones and vehicle chargers.
Warth says they now have to go through the process of securing the equipment, and adds they should have this latest technology within a year.