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Federal grant to help purchase critical firefighting equipent
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The federal Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded the county a grant to help Rockdale County Fire-Rescue purchase safety and operations equipment.

FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program is awarding the county $73,900.

From the funds, RCFR will purchase two mobile radio repeaters and a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) air compressor and fill station. The SCBA unit is the device a firefighter wears on their back to breathe air inside a burning building or hazardous environment.

RCFR currently has three SCBA compressors located around the county in fire stations, of which two date from the early 1980s and do not have the capability to fill the newest generation of SCBA units. About 35 percent of the department’s SCBAs are now the new generation.

It has only one compressor with the pressure to fill those.  Therefore, this new unit will be placed strategically in the county to support the existing unit. The original 1980s models will be removed from service when they no longer serve any function. The plan is for RCFR to fully convert to the new generation of SCBA units within the next five years as the older SCBAs are replaced.

The mobile radio repeaters will be placed in RCFR response units to aid in boosting radio signals around the county during large incidents or incidents where radio communications/signals are weaker. Fire Chief Dan Morgan said these will further enhance the new digital radio system being installed through SPLOST funds.

“Both of these equipment purchases will provide for more operational safety for the firefighters and allow RCFR to continue to deliver high levels of service to the community,” said Morgan.

“RCFR applies for this grant every year for equipment in different categories. So we are extremely pleased to receive this award."

The application is from 2012. The county applied three previous years, but was not funded. Commission Chairman Richard Oden and the county advocated for the funds in Washington D.C., securing support letters from the county’s congressional delegation.

“I’ve always believed Rockdale was the right recipient for the grant,” said Oden. “After applying several times unsuccessfully, I knew we had to have a clear focus on the target and just tighten up our strategy so that there’d be no room for doubt that we deserved that award.”