In fall 2021, Julie and Rebecca with Neighbors Building Neighborhoods assisted the Muskogee Fire Department in applying for a FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant to replace radio communications equipment throughout the department. In spring 2022, they assisted with gathering documentation for the environmental assessment required for the award. The grant was awarded on August 26, 2022. The attached photo is of Rebecca assisting Chief Moore with award acceptance.
The following is language from the application about how the grant will impact the Muskogee Fire Department and the community.
The MFD serves a population of 37,113 with 89 firefighters, 15 front line fire vehicles, and 6 fire stations. If there are overlapping calls, our firefighting personnel, equipment, and vehicles are stretched beyond their limits. Within the past few years, we have had large numbers of overlapping calls. This means clear and rapid communication is vital to ensure limited vehicle, personnel, and equipment are deployed as efficiently as possible. According to the community risk assessment, in 2020, there were 3,722 total calls and 654 overlapping calls for service throughout this area. In 2021, there have been 4,004 calls and 745 overlapping calls. Thus, we must increase our capacity to handle greater numbers of calls each year.
The MFD’s 10-year-old radios have exceeded their useful life and are no longer supported by the manufacturer. Many of our handheld radios are no longer functional, reducing the number of in-service units to 25. The objective is to replace these radios and increase the number of working handheld radios and vehicle-mounted radios to allow for adequate coverage during large and overlapping call events such as CBRNE response. This objective directly addresses the lack of communication capabilities identified in the 2021 Muskogee Community Risk Assessment. Unclear or unavailable communications due to substandard and insufficient radio equipment results in slow response or response to the incorrect location. If a radio stops working, it cannot be replaced. The proposed project will benefit the fire department and the community by significantly increasing the effectiveness of the MFD. The project will result in more efficient and reliable communications and greater capacity to respond to overlapping calls with quicker response time, greater coordination, and higher efficiency. The new radio equipment will be installed in all vehicles and fire stations and will be used by all on-duty fire fighters daily.
Replace existing 10-year-old radios through purchase of 70 portable, 24 mobile, and 6 base stations. The P-25 compliant mobile radios will provide for a radio in every vehicle and provide for a portable radio for every on duty firefighter and every on-call CBRNE responder. The proposed cost for the radios, associated equipment and installation is $319,920. The new radios will greatly increase fire ground safety through improved communication and result in more efficient fire-fighting and emergency response operations. Other benefits will be that the MFD will be able to provide better protection for life and property with greater effectiveness and coordination in emergency and all operations. The long term value of the new radios to the MFD will be in reliability, ease of use, and reduced maintenance costs for ongoing community fire protection operations. This will increase efficiency, decrease response times, and increase functionality during disaster or emergency response and across all operations. By eliminating repair and maintenance costs for old radios that fail or break on a daily basis, we will achieve a high cost benefit ratio.
The project will further the mission of the MFD by ensuring that firefighters have functional radio equipment needed to protect life and property in the first due and mutual aid response area. The project will help preserve the lives and health of Muskogee fire fighters by providing reliable and clear communications capability during emergency response events.