Three area fire departments will benefit from a $487,358 communication grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Fire departments in the City of Northwood and Lake Township and the Allen-Clay Joint Fire District were notified by FEMA March 15 they are receiving the funds to purchase 800 megahertz system radios.
Portable radios for individual use by firefighters as well as mobile units that will be installed in vehicles will be purchased, said Northwood Fire Chief Joel Whitmore.
Mike Hornyak, acting chief of the Lake Township Fire Department, said the township’s share of the grant will be about $260,000 and pay for about 50 portable units and one mobile for each vehicle in the department.
There are about 60 firefighters in the department, he said.
The township has been applying for grant funding to upgrade department communications equipment for a few years, said Melanie Bowen, a township trustee, and the size of this grant could free up local revenues for other needs such as replacing aging vehicles.
“We try to rotate fire trucks every 20 years or so,” she said.
The grant requires a 10 percent match from the recipients.
Northwood Fire Chief Joel Whitmore said his department is receiving about $144,000 that will be used to purchase a total of 33 portable and mobile radios and dispatching equipment.
“Rossford is already using the 800 system so we’ll be able to easily communicate between Rossford, Lake Township, and Northwood,” he said. “Perrysburg Township and the City of Perrysburg are exploring the possibility of coming on the system also. So it will greatly improve our ability to communicate between departments.”
Lucas County, including the City of Oregon, has been using the 800 system for years.
Northwood, Lake Township, and Rossford have automatic aid agreements for structure fires and the township has an agreement with the Allen-Clay district.
Mark Hummer, the township’s police chief and administrator, said the township police department has recently been equipped with 800 megahertz radios.
He began a study of converting to an 800-megahertz system shortly after the township was hit by a tornado in June 2010 and the system in use at the time was unable to handle the surge in emergency calls.
He said the fire department was especially hit hard by the surge. Township emergency personnel had to rely on radios loaned by the Lucas County Sheriff’s Department to handle tornado-related calls.
Bruce Moritz, chief of the Allen-Clay department, couldn’t be reached for comment.
According to chief Whitmore, the Allen-Clay department is receiving about $81,000 to buy 20 radios.