Manatee firefighters get $1 million in FEMA money for radios

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scg

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Manatee firefighters get $1 million in FEMA money for radios

By VINCENT F. SAFUTO
Correspondent
Published: Friday, April 6, 2012 at 2:54 p.m.

A $1 million federal grant for new radios will allow firefighters across Manatee County's many independent fire districts to communicate better with one another, and with other police and fire agencies during an emergency such as a major blaze or a hurricane, officials said.

Right now, the county's 11 fire districts are using aging radios that drop sound, are hard to maintain and do not allow easy communication with other agencies, fire officials said.

That should change over the next couple months as the districts use the federal grant and $250,000 in local tax money to buy 303 radios equipped with the latest communications technology, Cedar Hammock Fire Rescue Chief Randall R. Stulce said this week.

Speaking at the Council of Governments meeting at the Manatee Civic Center, Stulce said the 11 departments collectively will receive a little more than $1 million for radio upgrades. The department at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport is not part of the grant.

"It's a great grant," Stulce said, "and it's one of the largest awarded in Florida this year."

The money is from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Assistance to Firefighters grant program. The county fire agencies have to pay $250,000 for the radios to receive the grant match.

Like most equipment, radios have a life expectancy and when you reach that, an upgrade is needed, Stulce said. Agencies have been planning to replace the radios for some time.

"The radios we have are just outdated," he said. "We've had them for a number of years. It's hard to get parts for them."

The new radios will improve communications during a major emergency, and let the fire departments talk to other agencies, Stulce said. Brent Pollock, deputy chief of the West Manatee Fire Rescue, said that the old radios are hurting the county's emergency communication system. "The system that we have is being degraded by the old generation radios," he said. "The technology people tell me it causes additional noise on the system, and it slows the system." The order for the new radios were ordered this week and should arrive in eight weeks, Pollock said. It will take additional time to program them and install them in fire trucks, he said. Reliable radio communication is critical for firefighter and public safety, he said.

The new radios are important for large and small departments alike so they have reliable communications, he said. "And to protect our firefighters in case they get into a situation where they have to call mayday. They have to have a reliable radio system that will, hopefully, save their life."

The new technology, called P25, will enable public safety agencies to talk to each other, unlike now, Pollock said.
 

Bolt21

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The new technology, called P25, will enable public safety agencies to talk to each other, unlike now, Pollock said.
Yeah, okay. I guess I was just imagining that I heard MCSO communicating (quite well, actually) with SCSO a couple of weeks ago on MCSO Group 6 working what I believe was a robbery call. Come to think of it, I've heard MCFR with SCFR on MCFR Com 6.

Good for them that they're getting new radios. However, the `splainin' and justification for the new equipment almost always provides entertainment value.
 
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