A $2.4 million federal regional grant has been awarded to Hamilton Fire District No. 3, headquartered at Rusling Hose Fire Company on Rennie Street, for the purposes of sharing a single communications system between multiple towns' fire services, Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04) announced today.
"This federal grant will help a number of towns seeking to upgrade and coordinate their emergency communications equipment," said Smith, a long-time member of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus. "I thank the leadership of Hamilton Fire District No. 3 in pursuing this competitive grant which will help improve communications for firefighting responders who risk their lives to serve the public."
The grant manager for the project is Tom Gribbin, chief at Hamilton District 3. Gribbin is arranging shared services agreements with other towns in Mercer County which are choosing to participate. The new system can communicate with those towns opting not to participate via a planned radio cross link or "patch" in which a computer ties two frequencies together.
The new system is a 500 megahertz trunking and UHF conventional system, according to Gribbin. It will include new mobile radios for fire vehicles, portable radios, and a GPS tracking system on each apparatus operated by the central dispatch at the Mercer County Emergency Communications Center in Lawrence, located at the John T. Dempster Fire Service Training Center.
Smith received word of the funding last week, and was working with District 3 and FEMA over final details. The initial award of $1,570,569 on April 4 was far less than expected for the $2.8 million request. The new grant amount will be $2,457,011, according to FEMA officials. The balance of the cost will be shared by the participating local towns.
"We had an initial snag, but FEMA informed us yesterday that an additional $886,415 would be added to the original award," Smith said. "We thank FEMA for its assistance in this matter."
The funding comes through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) Operations and Safety Grant Program. It is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration. This is round 17 of the competitive FY 2011 Fire Grant announcements.