Department of Homeland Security grants are helping local emergency response departments like those in Orange County, N.Y., and Connellsville Township, Pa., protect their communities – even during times of financial strain.

According to the program’s website, the DHS awards grants to help regional authorities prepare for, prevent and respond to terrorist attacks and other disasters. Localities use grants for planning, equipment, training and exercise needs.

Orange County was recently awarded $870,000 to assist with public safety efforts. According to a county news release, the grant will fund programs within the Orange County Department of Emergency Services through August 2016.

The funds have been earmarked for the following projects:

  • $538,500 for interoperable communications equipment such as radios, laptops and radio tower equipment, as well as technical support for a dispatcher data network.
  • $30,000 for a contractor to conduct multi-agency exercises.
  • $29,000 for computer equipment.
  • $24,000 for communication leases.
  • $20,000 to support the county Emergency Management division’s software link with the New York Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.
  • $11,000 for training expenses

“Our proximity to New York City demands that we ensure all members of our 110 fire, police and EMS agencies are provided with the best communications equipment, training and information necessary for their safety and that we provide them with the tools necessary to ensure the successful completion of their mission,” Orange County Emergency Services Department Commissioner Walter Koury said in a statement.

Another community benefiting from DHS grants is Connellsville Township. Last week, the township’s volunteer fire department was awarded $61,750 to upgrade equipment, according to local news source, TribLive.

The department plans to use some of the funds to purchase 12 new breathing apparatuses to help firefighters work in smoke-filled environments. The equipment will be used on two of the department’s trucks, Rob Leiberger Jr., the department’s assistant chief, told the paper.

Leiberger added grants such as these help protect communities, especially during times of economic strain. He told the paper there are few paid firefighters in his district, which places tremendous pressure on volunteers. Smaller departments often must merge with larger ones to stay financially viable. He told the paper that federal grants can help smaller outfits stretch their resources.


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