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Iowa County Receives Grant for Emergency Radios

ELKADER, Iowa — Clayton County has received a $209,471 Assistance to Firefighters grant for updating communications equipment, according to county Emergency Management Director Joel Biggs.

The Federal Communications Commission will require that all radio activities be narrowband transmissions by the end of this year.

“This essentially means splitting broadbands in half,” Biggs said. “We could be fined $10,000 a day for using broadband transmission instead of narrowband after the end of the year. A lot of older radios and pagers used by our EMS and firefighter personnel do not have narrowband capabilities.”

The Assistance to Firefighters grant only applies to EMS and firefighters. Since a local fire department sponsor was needed to receive the grant, the Volga Fire Department sponsored the application in a joint venture with the Clayton County Communications Board.

Federal money in the grant totals $198,998 (95 percent), with the remaining $10,473 coming from local fire departments and EMS groups. The money will be used to purchase 162 portable hand-held radios, 66 mobile radios for vehicles, 102 pagers and 14 base stations for county EMS and fire departments.

“Our fire departments and EMS are strapped for funds,” Biggs said. “This is a big help for meeting an unfunded federal mandate. It will modernize these groups and will parallel what we are doing to upgrade our county communications system, which is more than 35 years old.”