Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

A $215,055 federal grant has allowed Morris County to purchase more than 500 pagers for the volunteer fire and EMS personnel that are dispatched by the county.

The devices will enable these first responders to take part in a countywide pager system that uses a single robust system to alert them to emergency situations.

Morris County in 2009 received a license to develop a countywide UHF paging system to provide county-wide coverage so the local responders can receive an alert anywhere in the county, said Morris County Freeholder Douglas R. Cabana.

In order to take advantage of this improved region-wide, alerting platform, all existing paging radios would have to be replaced for the volunteer fire and EMS personnel who provide the emergency services to their communities. While the $400,000 cost to build the system was borne by the county, it did not include the alerting receivers. However, Cabana said the Federal Assistance to Firefighters grant will pay for the pagers.

As a condition of the grant, each agency will cost share 10 percent toward the price based on the number of pagers they are to receive, Cabana said.

“This is a prime example of our efforts to support shared services and shared resources,” Cabana said. “It also eliminates the need for each town to have the paging equipment and the associated maintenance costs and saves the Volunteer Fire Companies and First Aid Squads more than $200,000.”

Scott DiGiralomo, director of the Morris County Department of Law and Public Safety, said cost savings are ultimately to be gained by a reduction in dispatch and infrastructure costs. He noted the initial transition costs were also well outside of the range of operating and capital budgets of the participating municipalities.

Cabana thanked the Borough of Mountain Lakes and its fire department for acting as the grant applicant on behalf of the other participants, which are the Boonton Township Fire Department; the Harding Fire/EMS Department; the Mendham Borough Fire Department; the Mendham Borough EMS; the Mendham Township Fire Department; the Mendham Township EMS; the Mine Hill Fire Department/EMS Department; the Mount Arlington Fire Department; the Netcong Fire Department; and Rockaway Borough Fire/EMS Department; and the Wharton Fire Department and EMS.