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Akron, Ohio

Akron Fire Department Awarded Federal Grant in the Amount of $1,328,169

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Grant will fund improvements to jointly-owned City/County 800MHz radio system

City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of stephanie york
Published: 07-31-2014

          The City of Akron received notification that its Fire Department was awarded its requested Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) in the federal share of $1,328,169.00.  The AFG will allow the City and County to make improvements to the jointly-owned 800MHz radio system which will increase interoperability for emergency responders, allowing the responders to operate more efficiently, effectively, and safely. This grant, while applied for by Akron Fire as the “host” agency, is actually a collaborative project involving the City, Summit County, and most of the other fire departments located in Summit County.

          In the last few years, several other Summit County fire departments were successful in applying for, and ultimately receiving, funding through the same Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program to upgrade public safety radio towers in their respective response areas where coverage of the countywide system was sometimes lacking. Those grants improved radio coverage in those specific areas and those upgraded towers employ the latest standards and technology. But, a consequence to making those changes was that the three outlying upgraded systems became “islands” not “talking” to each other or the rest of the countywide system.  So, practically speaking, users have to physically “switch” their radio’s channels if they move into the coverage area of a different tower.

          This newest grant builds upon the successes of those other fire department grants by installing a new “master site” controller that will control both the existing legacy system and these new towers, making it “one system” again. Hardware will be installed that will allow the existing dispatching consoles countywide to interface with the upgraded system, as well as allowing the new master site to control both the old and new portions of the system.  Some radios will be upgraded and programmed to allow them to recognize and communicate across the upgraded system.

          “These upgrades will allow us to establish limited interoperability across the entire system again,” said Akron Fire Chief, Rob Ross.  “However it is critical to note that the majority of the radio system will still be older technology whose useful life and manufacturer support will end in just a few years. So it is essential we obtain a source of revenue that will provide for the timely upgrade of the entire system, bringing it up to the current established standards for mission-critical public safety radio communications systems. This grant only takes a very small step in that direction, but it does address some immediate shortcomings affecting first-responders.”

          The overall project is expected to cost $1,475,743.00, with the grant funding 90% of that amount or $1,328,169.00. The City of Akron and Summit County have agreed to share the required local match of $147,574.00 which is $73,787.00 each.

          “I want to thank our supporters in congress, especially Senator Sherrod Brown and Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, for their continued funding of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program,” said Mayor Don Plusquellic. “The funds that have been allocated from this program over the years have increased safety for firefighters countywide. And, in turn, those brave men and women of the fire service can better protect their citizens.”

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For further information, contact:
stephanie york
communications director
Phone: 330-375-2345
E-mail: [email protected]

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