Chesterton Tribune


Commissioners approving 20 percent match to win hefty grant for fire deptartment radios

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Twice is nice.

For the second year in a row, representatives from various fire departments around Porter County filled the center rows of the County Commissioners’ chambers Tuesday to see the Commissioners agree to a 20 percent match of an Assistant to Firefighters Grant (AFG).

The grant in the amount of $851,978 comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Portage Fire Chief Tom Fieffer. He said with the new grant, 81 mobile truck radios and 44 portable “walky-talky” radios will be purchased and divided among eight fire stations.

Last year, the Portage FD won the AFG grant and was able to purchase radio equipment worth $926,437 for Portage and the towns of Chesterton, Porter, Beverly Shores, Westville, and Liberty Twp.

This year, radios will be given to Burns Harbor and Union Twp. FDs.

Fieffer told the Tribune the departments will have a meeting on April l first to decide who gets what.

The radios, he said, will be “all digital,” have narrowbanding compliant with FCC regulations, and be able to work on an 800 megahertz dispatch channel to operate with the County’s radio dispatch system.

The equipment will be purchased through Motorola with a warrantee up to five years, Fieffer said, but the radios can last up to 20 years or more if the firefighters take good care of them.

The Commissioners unanimously approved the 20 percent match at about $170,000 with County Economic Development Income (CEDIT) tax dollars pending approval from the County Council.

Fieffer and Porter County 911 Communications Director John Jokantas said that because of the two AFG grants, the County has received roughly $1.7 million in equipment at a cost of $355,682, a difference of almost $1.35 million.

None of the local municipalities will have to pay costs for the match, the two men pointed out.

Fieffer got permission from the Commissioners to pursue a grant for next year for other fire departments in need of upgrades.

“Third time’s a charm,” said County Commissioner Nancy Adams, R-Center.

Fieffer said his department will not be heading up the third AFG grant because they now have the equipment they need which makes them ineligible to apply. But he said he would be willing to give what he has as a “blueprint” to county FDs who may be eligible such as the Valparaiso FD, Kouts or Hebron among others.

Those who apply for the grant will also have to make sure they have the capability to use the radios, Fieffer said.

There are 18 municipal FDs in Porter County, Fieffer said. He said the Westville FD is in LaPorte County but services parts of Jackson Twp. along with Liberty Twp. FD.

Commissioner President John Evans congratulated Fieffer and his team saying he knows that writing those grant applications is not a simple endeavor.

“It’s not easy to write those grants and to get them two years in a row is just marvelous,” said Evans.


Posted 3/21/2013