Chester County first responders, including volunteer firefighters and EMTs in the Phoenixville area, will be getting new, upgraded pagers under a grant announced by Congressman Jim Gerlach (R-PA6). The new communications system will outfit volunteers across the county with state-of-the-art pagers that can alert them to fire, ambulance and other emergency calls.
Federal money will be combined with a grant from the county for a total of nearly $700,000 to be used for buying the new pagers.
Gerlach's office issued the following press release about the grant.
A project to upgrade the regional public safety paging system used by Chester County’s volunteer fire departments and emergency medical services personnel will receive a $554,157 federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant, Congressman Jim Gerlach (PA-6th District) announced Thursday.
The grant administered by the Department of Homeland Security was awarded to East Brandywine Fire Company, which worked cooperatively with Chester County Fire Services on the grant proposal.
Chester County has agreed to pay $138,539 toward replacement of the regional public safety paging system to comply with the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) narrowband mandate. The project will help ensure reliable coverage and capacity among regional, local, state and federal first responders.
'Enhancing communication capabilities during emergencies is critical to protecting our first responders and the communities they serve,' Gerlach said. 'Chester County Fire Services and the county Emergency Services Department deserve a huge amount of credit for cooperating on a project that will help our volunteer first responders to continue providing excellent service and that will benefit all of the residents and businesses in the county.'
Chester County’s fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) protection is provided by 38 fire departments and two non-affiliated EMS organizations serving 73 municipalities.
The 2,056 firefighters and EMS personnel, most of whom are volunteers, provide valuable emergency response to the county’s 498,894 citizens, protecting their lives and properties.
'Every volunteer in Chester County, as well as the taxpayers, will benefit in some way from this grant,' said East Brandywine Fire Company Chief Joseph Edwards. 'East Brandywine Fire Company was very pleased to be asked to sponsor this grant and looks forward to the new paging system being implemented.'
It is only by this coordination and collaboration through a regional application that compliance and interoperability can be realized to serve and benefit a larger community, while also allowing greater purchasing power. The funding received from AFG will provide a substantial reduction in funds required to attain 100 percent implementation of the integrated countywide emergency communications plan.
Specifically, the provided funding will be utilized to purchase pagers and accessories for use by first responders. The Chester County fire departments decided to purchase this communication equipment so information and services can be exchanged directly and satisfactorily between users. The equipment will enable them to operate effectively together, addresses both interoperability and compliance issues, and is a highly beneficial use of federal funds.
Raymond Stackhouse, President, Chester County Fire Chiefs Association added, 'On behalf of the Chester County Fire Chiefs Association, I would like to thank East Brandywine Fire Company for sponsoring this grant application and the Chester County Commissioners and the Department of Emergency Services staff for all of their assistance and support throughout this process. Being a regional project it also took the efforts and cooperation of all Chester County emergency response organizations to make this possible. These funds will be a tremendous help in offsetting the costs of a much needed improvement to the current communications process for all emergency responders in the County.'