Craighead County’s 10 volunteer fire departments have received a federal grant of $858,522.73 to purchase radios and other communication equipment, Craighead County Judge Marvin Day announced.
The award is from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Fiscal Year 2020 Assistance to Firefighters Grant. As a condition of the grant, the fire departmentswill contribute 10 percent of the grant’s amount, or $85,852.27 for a total approved budget of $944,350.
The purpose of the award, according to a Homeland Security press release, is to “protect the health and safety of the public and firefighting personnel against fire and fire-related hazards.”
Lt. Keith Beeson of the Southridge Volunteer Fire Department wrote the grant proposal. After reviewing the application, the Department of Homeland Security found the proposal to be “worthy of the award.”
The county’s 10 volunteer fire departments will purchase 20 digital base station-single band radios, 200 P25 handheld single band-trunking radios and 77 vehicle-mounted mobile radios.
Southridge Volunteer Fire Department Chief Matt Sandy said the new radios will allow all fire departments to communicate on a universal radio system. In the past, Southridge and others used antiquated analog radios. The new digital equipment will allow departments to communicate with each other and with other state officials during any emergencies.
“We were having issues with the old system,” Sandy said. “This will get us on the same digital channel as the Jonesboro Fire Department and the Jonesboro Police Department. This will give us the ability to communicate with them and others.”
In addition to Southridge, Craighead County’s volunteer fire departments consist of Bay, Bono, Brookland, Caraway. Cash, Lake City, Monette, Philadelphia and Valley View.