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Grant match will give Porter County fire departments new equipment

Updated: April 25, 2013 6:34AM



VALPARAISO — Fire departments in Porter County will receive upgraded equipment for the second year in a row, thanks to a match for a federal grant provided by the Porter County Board of Commissioners Tuesday.

The county will provide $170,395 from county economic development income tax funds as a match for a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which oversees the Assist to Firefighters Grant program. Between the grant and the county’s match, the funds this year total $851,978.

Portage Fire Chief Tom Fieffer, who spearheaded the grant application process last year and this year, said the funds will provide additional updated equipment to the Portage, Chesterton, Porter, Liberty Township, Beverly Shores and Westville fire departments, as well as adding Burns Harbor and Union Township.

Last year’s upgrades gave fire departments the ability to communicate with one another through the state’s SAFE-T interoperations network. The equipment this year allows dispatch through that network as well.

“This now puts those radios in every day use,” Fieffer said, adding previously, the departments could talk to each other, but not to dispatch. “Now we’re going to be able to talk to dispatch.”

The next step, Fieffer said, will be getting more departments involved and further improving the radio system for the county’s fire departments.

Last year, commissioners provided $185,287 in CEDIT funds, for a total of $926,437 in funds for new radio equipment.

Commissioners President John Evans, R-North, commended Fieffer’s efforts in getting the grant money.

‘To get it two years in a row is just marvelous,” he said.

Fieffer said the investment into the radio system over the past two years totals more than $1.7 million – and he go the go-ahead to work on next year’s grant.

“Three times is the charm,” said Nancy Adams, R-Center.



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