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Monroe gets $400K FEMA grant for communications upgrade
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MONROE -The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced Friday it has awarded a $411,470 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) to the City of Monroe Fire Department. The grant is to be used to upgrade fire department communications capabilities throughout Green County.

Because the grant will benefit all emergency services in the county, Sheriff Randy Roderick approached the Green County Board of Supervisors' Finance Committee for matching funds during the application process last summer. The county set aside $45,900 for the project, one-tenth of the original grant application request.

Monroe Fire Chief Daryl Rausch wrote the grant, and Monroe Fire Department served as the department hosting the application.

Rausch said the grant money will go toward building a new repeater site in Albany and to upgrade the repeater sites in Brodhead, Browntown and Monroe. The repeater sites relay information to improve capability and coverage for the mobile data system, allowing more people to use the system in more places.

The mobile data system was initiated in 2004-05 and expanded with a Spillman mobile data system by the City of Monroe and Green County with two grants totaling $1 million.

A grant in 2008 allowed installation of mobile data systems in all emergency trucks.

The new grant is the final step in the system upgrade, Rausch said.

The upgrade includes data inscription software and a new VHF radio modems for all 24 fire trucks in the county. The modems will replace "aircards" in the mobile units. Use of the aircards costs $50 per month per unit, a costcovered by a grant for the first two years.

"The Assistance to Firefighters Grant program is the most successful program the Legislature has put out there," Rausch said. "Ninety-six percent of (AFG) funds go directly into the hands of the fire departments that need them, administered by and for firefighters."

With this recent grant, the city and county "have received close to $2 million in grant funding in the last seven years," he added.

Nationally, the AFG awards, which will be distributed in phases, will provide approximately $560 million to fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical service organizations throughout the country.

AFG awards aim to enhance response capabilities and to more effectively protect the health and safety of the public from fire and other hazards. The grants enable local fire departments and emergency medical services organizations to purchase or receive training, conduct first responder health and safety programs, and buy equipment and response vehicles.

"The Assistance to Firefighters Grants program has been instrumental in building capacity and providing needed resources for our nation's firefighters," FEMA Administrator R. David Paulison said. "From the purchase of equipment to first responder training, the AFG program has helped improve response capabilities and saved lives and property in communities throughout the United States."

Since 2002, AFG has provided more than $3.6 billion in grants to fire departments and first responder organizations to purchase response equipment, personal protective equipment, vehicles and fire prevention activities. AFG is administered cooperatively by two FEMA components: The Grants Program Directorate and the United States Fire Administration.

The full list of FY 2008 AFG recipients and other information is posted on the AFG Web site ( FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.