By Ray Balogh
SYRACUSE — Turkey Creek Fire Chief Mickey Scott delivered a significant item of good news to the fire board and township advisory boards Monday, Dec. 13.
Scott announced the awarding of a $181,166.06 grant for the department to purchase new portable, mobile and base radios to enhance interdepartmental communication capability in times of emergency.
“We are working on having this new emergency radio system operational in the very near future,” he said. “Currently we are planning for the installation of the mobile and base radio systems to begin in early January 2022.”
The funding was derived from a $15 million federal grant received by Kosciusko County last spring under the American Rescue Plan Act, intended to assist state and local fiscal recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Purchasing the emergency communications equipment falls within the spacious parameters of the ARP guidelines.
Township Trustee Julie Close, the authorized grant applicant, explained the need for funding in the project description:
“The county is working to move from a VHF communications system, which will no longer be supported after July 1, 2022, to the 700 MHz communications system countywide.
“The current mobile devices are a mix of antiquated VHF and 800 MHz devices with severely inadequate coverage, leading to unserved and underserved parts of the county on a public safety basis.
“It is imperative that first responders have the capability to have clear two-way communications with the dispatch center, relay the condition of a patient or call in additional resources needed at an emergency scene.”
All fire departments located in the county received some funds, and Scott specifically thanked “the ARPA Committee, the Kosciusko County Commissioners and the Kosciusko County Council for providing this funding.”
“This is a system that has been needed for several years,” he said.
Scott presented his monthly report for November:
• With more than 90% of the calendar year elapsed, the department has utilized just over 75% of its budget.
• The department responded to 18 fire calls and 127 EMS calls in November. The territory lost approximately $30,000 in property damages from a structure fire, while the responses saved an estimated $102,600 in property.
• Department members logged 327 hours of fire and EMS training during the month. Topics included hypothermia treatment and protocol, sedation of combative and traumatic patients, treatment of severe bleeding, equipment inspection and operations, ambulance readiness and map training.
• Constance McKee-Richcreek and Blake Forrester were hired as full-time probationary firefighter/paramedics.
• Several candidates applied for the position of administrative assistant. Scott hailed the qualifications of all the applicants and said, “we plan to make an offer of employment soon.” The assistant’s office will located in the Syracuse Town Hall building.
• Close issued her monthly report for November. During the month, her office disbursed poor relief of $1,749.91 in utilities and $100 for food. No disbursements were made for rent.
• The board voted to continue Corky Wong as at-large member of the fire board, and to retain Andrew Grossnickle as township attorney through 2022.
• John Heckaman and Dennis Darr were re-elected as township representatives to the fire board and members of the advisory board, with Heckaman continuing his position as chairman.
The fire board will next meet at 6:45 p.m. Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, in Syracuse Town Hall. The township advisory board will meet at 7 p.m.