ESCANABA - Homeland security programs throughout the Upper Peninsula are sharing a $1.2 million federal grant to upgrade emergency response capabilities, including communication systems.
"Every county gets a piece of the pie," said Bob Berbohm, Delta County emergency management coordinator.
The Homeland Security grant was a joint application for the region, which includes all 15 counties in the Upper Peninsula, he explained.
In Delta County, grant monies will be used to replace radio equipment so emergency personnel - including police, fire and medical personnel - meet new requirements from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), said Berbohm.
The FCC is mandating emergency radio systems, like the county's VHF equipment, be changed to a narrow-bandable frequency system, he explained.
With the cooperation of the state, Delta County is hoping to meet the FCC's Jan. 1, 2013, deadline by the end of 2011, which would be a year ahead of time, he said. Counties that do not meet the FCC deadline will be assessed huge fines, he added.
Delta County Homeland Security is looking to put 57 mobile radios and 126 portable radios in operation with the grant money allocated locally, Berbohm said. Through a previous Homeland Security grant, 176 pagers were purchased for firefighters, he noted.
In addition to the new radios, the Delta County agency is also looking to spend its share of the current grant on upgrading "Grab and Go" emergency response bags that all schools in the county have in classrooms, said Berbohm.
The bags were distributed to area schools beginning several years ago with the support of the Delta County Intermediate School District which encourages safe schools, he explained. The bags contain safety equipment for use in various emergencies.
The county's recent Homeland Security funds will also be used for other projects including ballistic shields for law enforcement, added Berbohm.
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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, firstname.lastname@example.org