Hatfield Fire Department lands $161K grant to replace obsolete communications equipment

  • The Hatfield Fire Department fights a brush fire off Dwight Street in 2017. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 9/22/2021 12:47:31 PM

HATFIELD — Obsolete communications equipment used by Hatfield firefighters, including portable and mobile radios, will soon be replaced. 

Fire Chief Robert Flaherty recently announced that his department received a $161,238 Assistance to Firefighters federal homeland security grant that will cover about half the cost of upgrading radios that no longer meet standards, and have limited capabilities.

Flaherty explained to the Select Board that the radio he uses is more than 20 years old and typically has a lifespan of about 15 years. The out-of-date equipment has made it more difficult to communicate with mutual aid partners, including Hatfield police officers, on emergency calls, he said.

Town Meeting last spring authorized $265,000 in borrowing for the purchases, and that amount can now be reduced.

“The good news is it won’t cost taxpayers as much money,” Flaherty said.

Flaherty noted that the grant was competitive, with 8,100 agencies across the country seeking the financial support.

Select Board Chairwoman Diana Szynal said it is comforting to know emergency communications will function better, calling it a safety issue for firefighters.

Flaherty said he will be ordering the new radios soon and expects to have them delivered within three months, with in-service training for firefighters to follow.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

 




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