Public safety in North Kingstown just got a half-million-dollar boost courtesy of the federal government. U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse along with U.S. Representatives David Cicilline and James Langevin announced that the is to receive $577,631 in federal grants.
The federal funds will go toward upgrading the department's communications systems and equipment, purchasing portable radios for the firetrucks and in-car repeaters. According to Fire Chief Fenwick Gardiner Jr., these repeaters will help boost signal from the trucks' portable radios.
"There are areas in town that are difficult communications wise," said Gardiner "Inside buildings are another link in the length of the chain."
According to Gardiner large buildings like the and have posed problems for communications, with concrete and other materials compromising signals exiting the building.
"It is a very big deal in terms of safety because communication is key," said Gardiner.
The upgrades will also allow the department to switch from analog to the statewide 800 MHz radio system, enhancing its communications interoperability.
Gardiner praised the department's grant writers for securing these comptetitive grants. Woonsocket was the only other Rhode Island municipality to receive the grant, nabbing $299,250 to train firefighters and paramedics to more effectively respond to emergency situations. The grant – Assistance to Firefighters Grants – were made available through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and FEMA.
“Our firefighters are often taking risks to protect us and keep our families and neighborhoods safe,” said Senator Whitehouse. “These grants will help provide critical equipment upgrades and necessary training to our fire departments, giving them the tools they need to effectively respond to emergencies.”