CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - A pair of Region 8 fire departments now have an extra tool in their arsenal.
The Valley View Fire Department and Bono Fire Protection District recently teamed up for a regional project.
They applied together for a FEMA Community Grant for $54,000.
And they got it!
Now, both the Valley View Fire Department and Bono Fire Protection District has new radios.
Chief Trent Edwards with the Bono Fire Protection District said these aren't just any radios.
"One of the biggest problems in any natural disaster or major event," Edwards said. "You'll hear anywhere in the United States is departments can't communicate with one another. Craighead County did a good job years ago providing each fire department with one radio that would do that. But if you have five or six teams out searching for a missing victim, tornado or whatever, we can't communicate with everybody."
These new radios allow everyone to communicate with each other.
"So, now when something happens," Edwards said. "And we're on the scene with say the Craighead County Sheriff's Department. They can give us permission to go to one of their channels and we can all communicate together."
Edwards said he and his volunteers know what it means to have a radio that doesn't reach.
"We have been out before searching for a lost child," Edwards said. "The Sheriff's Department had found the child and it was an hour or two before word got down to us. It was no one's fault. That's just the way it happens when you have several different radios. Not frequencies, but totally different networks that you're on. So, now this new radio that we've got will cover most all the radio networks that we have in this part of the country."
Edwards said the new radios will allow them to communicate with fellow fire departments, sheriff departments, police departments, forestry and anyone who is on the Arkansas Wireless Information Network.
"We can get on AWIN now," Edwards said. "With permission, of course, with whatever agency we're working with. We can get on their channel and then we can all communicate during a natural disaster or another big event."
After being awarded the grant, Valley View and Bono divided the radios according to their coverage area.
"We split the radios," Edwards said. "So, we're both prepared and we'll be training together in scenarios where we would have to use them. And so, stuff like this just makes us better prepared in getting emergency help to the people who need it faster."
The Bono Fire Protection District received 10 radios and the Valley View Fire Department got five.
There are 39 volunteer firefighters with the Bono Fire Protection District and 15 firefighters with the Valley View Fire Department.
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