Cass County Fire Departments to benefit from $228-k grant


March 28th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic Volunteer Fire Department is one of three departments from around the State of Iowa to have been awarded an Assistance to Firefighters Grant. Senator Tom Harkin announced today (Wednesday) a total of $391,512 in grants is being awarded from the program, through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Atlantic’s share of the grant money amounts to $228,475.

Cass County Assistant Emergency Management and E-911 Coordinator Rob Koppert told KJAN News, the funds will be shared among all the fire departments in the County, because the Cass County Fireman’s Association worked with him to compile all the information necessary to apply for the grant. The Atlantic Fire Department will serve as the flow-through agency, which is why it was named the grant recipient. The total project cost is a little over $240,000. The county’s share of those funds is 5-percent,  or about $12,000, with the feds picking up the rest.

Koppert says the funds will be used for radio infrastructure, such as new radios for 35 fire trucks among the various departments within the County, new radios for six fire department ambulances, a little more than 100 pagers, plus installation of remote receivers for the County Fire frequency or moving that frequency to the repeater to enable improved communications. Most of the radios and receives are necessary due to the Federal narrow-banding requirement, which means the bandwidth of transmissions is changed from 25-kilohertz to 12.5-kilohertz. The result, says Koppert, is an impact on the audio quality and coverage.

Koppert says the next step in the process is to determine the specifications for the radios they need, and put it out to the various vendors who handle that type of equipment, for bid. The equipment will be paid for with the grant money. Koppert says many, extensive hours were spent not only by himself, but the various County departments, in putting together all the information needed on the grant application, that would make Cass County stand-out among the competition for funds.

He says he received information about three-weeks ago a grant may be in the works for the County, but there were no official announcements, until word came down today from Senator Harkin’s Office. He says he is “Extremely ecstatic. This is the most fantastic news that (he’s) received in many, many years.” He says “This is the best thing that can happen for Cass County and the fire departments (within the County). Each fire department is going to benefit from this.”

Harkin, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which funds the Department of Homeland Security, says the funds shared by the three departments will go toward operations and safety. The other grants were awarded to the communities of Garwin, and Independence.