Avalon — Avalon Volunteer Fire Department has been awarded $571,428 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the purchase of 120 dual-band radios, Chief Ed Dean announced today.
“This is a major win not only for Avalon, but for the eleven other departments and communities that partnered with us in this application,” Dean said. “By making the switch from our current VHF radios to dual-bands, all of our departments will be able to better coordinate efforts before arrival on scene and maintain safety while performing our firefighting duties.”
The money comes from FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program — an extremely competitive national funding opportunity that provides grants to fire departments for “critically needed resources to equip and train emergency personnel to recognized standards, enhance operations efficiencies, foster interoperability, and support community resilience.”
Each year, the AFG program receives approximately 12,000 applications from across the country and makes awards to only roughly 20%. Avalon’s successful application was written by Triad Associates of Vineland, NJ — a community and economic development firm that has secured more than $1 billion in funding for its clients over the past 43 years.
Cape May County Office of Emergency Management Director Martin Pagliughi, who spearheaded the AVFD’s effort and who also serves as Mayor of the Borough of Avalon, said that while some fire departments throughout the County are already using dual-band radios, many are not. This, he noted, can make coordination difficult when departments responding to the same call are using different equipment to communicate with one another.
“This is a public safety issue,” Pagliughi stated. “Having interoperable radios in the hands of more departments will ensure that commanders can focus their efforts on controlling the incident. This will allow for more effective and efficient deployment of firefighters and resources, which will lead to better protecting people and property.”
According to Dean, departments that participated in this application with the AVFD include Cape May, West Cape May, Erma, Middle Township, Ocean View, Rio Grande, Villas, Sea Isle City, Belleplain, North Wildwood and Marmora.
“This award from the AFG Program is huge for our County,” noted Cape May County Commission Chair Gerald Thornton. “Dual-band radios are not inexpensive yet are critical to the safety of the firefighters and the communities they serve and protect. I commend OEM Director Pagliughi for his leadership in this effort.”
The grant awarded to AVFD will be supplemented by a required 5% local match of $28,571, to be shared equally among the 12 participating departments, under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding signed by all parties.
The radios are expected to be purchased, programmed and in use by early 2022.