Volunteer fire departments to apply for grant to purchase new radios

Posted at 1:32 PM, Jan 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:31:23-04

Next month, ten Bell county volunteer fire departments will apply for a joint grant to get new portable radios.

Salado, Central Bell County Fire & Rescue and Troy are some of the VFDs that will be applying for a Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistance to Firefighters Grant.

According to Harker Heights Fire Chief Paul Sims who is spearheading the effort said the request of up to $775,000 could be for up to 220 radios.

In order for volunteer fire departments to have the same radio system several Bell County agencies are using, they must buy new ones. 

"Every few years these radios upgrade, the radios we have up currently, we can't upgrade anymore," Central Bell County Fire Rescue Chaplain David Nobles said.

Currently, firefighters can still communicate with each other even if they are using different radios. However, the system the volunteer fire departments are using is about to go out, according to Bell County Coordinator Michael Harmon.

Central Bell County Fire & Rescue Chaplain David Nobles also said the current radios have a low battery life.

"That's when it becomes a firefighter safety issue, say in a house fire, fighting a house fire and you reach down to call for help inside of a fire with your radio and you can't get anybody because your battery has gone dead,” Nobles said.

The 35-year-old added he has not experienced that yet but it is a potential scenario.

In addition, he said their portable radios can’t be fixed, if something happens to them.

"The radios we have now, their current state is OK current but if something breaks, we can't repair it. We can’t get the parts for it,” Nobles said.

Nobles and Salado Fire Chief Shane Berrier said the volunteer fire departments don’t have the resources to buy new radios.

"All the volunteer departments, we don't have the funds that the cities have. We are talking about 3,000 radios a piece,” Berrier said.

The grant would cover 90 percent of the cost of the radios and local entities would have to cover the rest.

The departments have requested county commissioners to pay for 10 percent of the cost.

In the meantime, a grant writer is in the process of being hired to complete the submission by the Feb. 2 deadline.

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