Grants provide major upgrades for Fairhope Volunteer Fire Department
The Fairhope Volunteer Fire Department has been undergoing upgrades thanks to generous grants.
Since 2014, the 52-member strong department has received grants totaling nearly $1.5 million from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG). The funds have allowed for the implementation of the FEMA recommended/compliant P25 system and allowed for new Self-Contained Breathing Apparatuses. Combined, the grants provided 50 handheld radios and 18 mobile radios for the fire trucks as well as 55 airpacks and 110 air bottles.
“By the fire department going for these grants we were able to save the city $1.5 million just by taking a chance and putting in for these grants,” said Fire Chief Chris Ellis. “It didn’t cost the city anything. If we don’t apply for equipment, someone else will.”
AFG grants are available to fire departments nationwide, allowing departments to apply for needed equipment and saving municipalities money.
“The fire department is as strong as we’ve ever been,” Ellis said. “The radios allow us to communicate in areas where we had trouble in the past, and we are also interoperable with the other fire departments in Baldwin County.”
What’s more, the P25 system also provides for an even greater level of safety in the City.
“Should a big disaster happen in our area, the radio system allows us to be interoperable with State and National resources,” Ellis said.
Fairhope’s Emergency Management director John Saraceno agrees.
“This radio system gave us the ability to tie into the system for emergency preparedness for the City of Fairhope, not just the fire department,” said Saraceno. “Developed by the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials-International (APCO), P25 is a suite of standards for North American digital radio communications for federal, state and local public safety organizations and utilities, allowing for interoperable multi-agency communications.”
Ellis and Saraceno report that more grant opportunities could be in the works.
“We have applied for the 2018 AFG and have requested a fire engine,” Ellis said. “We are waiting to hear the results.”