Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which oversees the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program, awarded Lake Zurich a $218,850 grant to buy 43 radios that will allow the fire department to continue communication with area police as they transition to a new radio system.

Lake Zurich must match at least 10 percent of the grant to cover the full cost of about $240,000.

Lake Zurich plans to purchase 23 dual-band portable radios and 20 single-band mobile radios. The new radios will allow fire rescue personnel to communicate with Lake Zurich, Kildeer, and Hawthorn Woods police, who are transitioning soon with Lake County Sheriff’s Office¬†to the StarCom 21 statewide trunked radio system.

“It’s a key piece of equipment we use,” Fire Chief John Malcolm said. “Interoperability is paramount in what we do. We have to be able to talk to other staff and the police department and our automatic aid partners, so we can communicate with them.”

As the transition to Starcom 21 occurs in the coming months, the current radio frequencies used by Lake Zurich firefighters will become extinct, Kelly said.

The trunked StarCom 21 radio system is a computer-controlled two-way radio system that allows the sharing of relatively few frequency channels among a large group of users.

“It could be Lake Zurich or a Lake County talk group,” acting Fire Chief John Kelly said. “There are so many (channels) within each frequency. A particular segment of the trunk is open, and you can talk on it. If you don’t have the radio and programming, you’re not going to be able to hear it. The radio signal and computer system decides how to assign you within a talk group.”

Assistance to Firefighters Grants are awarded through a competitive application process to fire departments, emergency medical services organizations, and state fire training academies, he said.¬†“They put out an announcement annually. They lay out guidelines of how to apply, steps you need to go through, specifically about what funding is available. There is a peer review. If you do not fill it out correctly, the computer kicks out your application and you’re done.”

thanks Dan

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