Morning Sentinel (Waterville, Maine)
BYLINE: CALDER, AMY
WATERVILLE — The police and fire departments have been awarded about $421,000 in federal grants for new equipment, including a fire engine.
The Fire Department will receive $332,500 from Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program for the fire engine.
“We’re overjoyed at this because the replacement of that fire engine is looked at as being a critical need and one that would be very difficult for the city to finance,” City Manager Michael Roy said Wednesday.
The engine will replace Engine 3, which the department disposed of because it was too costly to maintain, according to fire Chief David LaFountain.
“We’ve been down to two engines for a couple of years now,” he said.
The department also will receive $9,909 from Homeland Security, through Maine Emergency Management Agency, to make all radios narrow band by 2014, which is an FCC requirement, LaFountain said.
The Police Department was awarded $54,295 to buy communications system software and equipment at the new police station slated to be built this year, according to City Manager Michael Roy.
Police also got $25,000 to cover about half the cost and installation of a new backup electrical generator for the station, he said.
The timing for receiving the grants for the communications system and the generator could not have been better, according to Roy.
“I think they’re both critical in terms of public safety because of dispatch and the backup electricity benefit that they provide,” Roy said.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, announced the Fire Department grant Wednesday.
“The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program is an extremely critical source of funds for our local fire and rescue personnel,” Collins said in a news release. “They need good equipment, adequate staffing, intensive training and public support to do their job.”
U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud D-2nd District, praised the announcement and said in a press release that the purchases will help keep residents of Waterville safe.
“It’s fantastic news,” according to Police Sgt. Daniel Goss, who wrote the application for the communications system upgrades as well as the generator. “It’s going to bring us in line with current technologies.”
He said police now operate on a discontinued line of products and the new system will allow the department to be up to date in dispatching for the 13 communities with which it contracts.
Waterville fire rescue technician Mark Hamilton wrote the application for the firetruck and fire Lt. Shawn Esler wrote the application for the radio upgrades.
Firefighter Eion Pelletier last year applied for, and the department was awarded, $25,000 from the Stephen King Foundation to buy three instruments to detect the level of carbon monoxide in a person’s blood, as well as seven defibrillators. He and Esler used the carbon monoxide testers when they saved the lives of two subcontractors who were overcome by carbon monoxide last week at Tractor Supply.
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