Montcalm Township will pay for sirens, use grant money for radios

By Curtis Wildfong • Last Updated 10:49 am on Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Montcalm Township Board gave approval to reallocate Homeland Security grant funds for installing radio signal activation on its newly purchased sirens to radios for the fire department. An issue with when the grant money would be available meant the remote activation could not be installed until after storm season. Daily News/Curtis Wildfong

MONTCALM TOWNSHIP —  Due to an issue with the timing of when grant money will be available and when the township would like to install its four severe weather sirens at full service, the township gave approval to reallocate grant funds to radios for fire department.

Montcalm Township was approved for a $7,740 grant from the Homeland Security — awarded through the Montcalm County Central Dispatch — that would go toward allowing the dispatch center to activate the sirens remotely. However, funds from that grant would not be available to the township until mid summer.

“The problem is that grant doesn’t open until June first, so in order for us to use that grant money on that project for the controller projects, we would basically have to not install that portion of the siren project until that grant money came available,” Township Supervisor Michael Adams said.

Not wanting to wait until then to put in sirens that can be activated by dispatch, the township board on Wednesday approved paying the money itself for the township’s sirens, given the likeliness it will be able to reallocate those funds toward the purchase of three 800 mHz radios for the fire department.

The amount of the grant would purchase three radios, 10 of which Fire Chief Clif Dickinson said the department hoped to purchase soon anyway.

“We would essentially be buying you three new Motorola radios,” said Central Dispatch Deputy Director Tim Scott, who was present at Wednesday’s meeting,

Of the Homeland Security grant, $6,450 was designated to Montcalm Township. Eureka Township has yet to decide on the $1,290 of grant fund it was to receive. The two townships split the cost of a fourth siren to be put up near the county fairgrounds. The other three locations for the sirens are at the Montcalm Township Hall, on South Johnson Road near the Carl Paepke Nature Trail and on Wise Road near Johnson and Youngman roads.

Scott said there was a general consensus of the dispatch committee, which oversees distribution of grant money, for the allowing of the reallocation, but would still need to be voted on.

The decision means the sirens — which would have been installed by spring either way, but without the capability of remote activation — will be able to be at full capacity come spring.

“To activate them manually at this point, we would have to send a firefighter out to each siren location and they would have to go up on a step ladder, open up a box eight feet in the air and hit the activation button,” Adams said. “That is not in line with protecting our employees, our firemen and the people.”

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