First responders receive $35K

Published 12:05 am Friday, October 14, 2011

Covington County has received a $35,000 grant to boost communications for first responders.

The funding, which was announced Wednesday by the Department of Homeland Security, was awarded through a competitive application process, said Susan Harris, county EMA director.

Harris said the county is sharing in a total of $393,382, along with Elmore, Franklin, Cullman, Limestone, Escambia, Barbour, Henry, Winston, Geneva, Clarke, Colbert, Walker, Madison, Lee, Baldwin and Chambers counties.

“The purpose of the program is to improve interoperable emergency communications, including communications in response to natural disasters, acts of terrorism and other man-made disasters,” she said. “What it means for us on a local level is that it will allow us to purchase repeaters for each Covington County Sheriff’s Department vehicle.

“They’ve had issues with their radio system on the outskirts of the county, and with the new repeaters, it will allow them to better communicate with not only each other, but other first responders in the county,” she said.

The grant covers 75 percent of the equipment cost and 100 percent of the installations, she said.

“Another great thing this grant does is allow us to reprogram an estimated 200 volunteer fire department radios, which will bring them into compliance with state regulations,” she said.

The cost for the reprogramming is covered at 100 percent through the grant.

The grants will be used in the counties to help First Responders meet, and in some cases, exceed goals set forth in the National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP). The vision of the NECP is to ensure that emergency response personnel at all levels of government, and across disciplines, can communicate as needed, on demand, and as authorized. To achieve this vision, the NECP identifies the capabilities and initiatives needed for communications operability, interoperability and continuity of communications for emergency responders nationwide.

“I’m very excited for our county to receive this grant,” she said.