ELSMERE, Ky. — More than $3 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security are going to local governments in Kentucky to counter terrorism.
People may not spend a whole lot of time worrying about acts of terrorism happening here in a place like Elsmere. But just in case that day ever comes, firefighters there will now be better equipped to help save lives, thanks to new communication equipment, and a new extrication device.
“It is to combat terrorism, or prepare for some type of terroristic event, or things along those lines,” said Elsmere Fire Chief Paul LaFontaine. “God forbid we have another major disaster or an event that would occur, we’ll have that readily available at our disposal.”
The Elsmere Fire Protection District is receiving two of the 31 grants totaling more than $3.3 million from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP) to help local governments prepare for and counter acts of terrorism in the Commonwealth.
In a statement announcing the grants along with the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security (KOHS), Gov. Andy Beshear said, “An extended public health crisis combined with an ever-increasing number of cyberattacks has placed an incredible burden on our local governments and first responders to protect the people, property and critical infrastructure of Kentucky.
“These grants will allow cities and counties throughout the commonwealth to strengthen their defenses against homeland security threats of all types,” Beshear said.
For Elsmere, $16,600 dollars will go toward mobile radio equipment.
About a year ago, Boone and Kenton Counties put in a new digital radio system which allows firefighters to talk to different entities like police and airport officials. LaFontaine said the counties funded the infrastructure of the system, but all of the agencies were left to fund the devices they needed for their department.
“We, at the time, only were able to purchase the bare minimum of radios that we could operate with daily. It didn’t outfit all of our equipment,” LaFontaine said. “If we can’t communicate in any kind of a situation, then we really offer no service. So we need to have the ability to communicate.”
New portable and mobile radios will allow the Elsmere Fire Protection District to finish outfitting the rest of its equipment.
A grant for $13,250 dollars will go toward battery-powered portable hydraulic extrication equipment used for lifting, spreading, prying and extricating. The department’s current gas-engine powered cutter spreader needs two people to operate, and is limited by a 20-foot hose.
“And then you have a gasoline motor that’s running. So if you’re in a confined space, or whatever, then you have other problems that creates,” LaFontaine said.
The new one is smaller and easier to use.
“One person can take it, and as soon as you can press the trigger, it’s operating the tool,” LaFontaine said. “That becomes important if there was a terrorist event, like what happened on 9/11. Buildings collapsed, so you’re going into rubble, and you’re trying to lift great big pieces of concrete.”
LaFontaine said the equipment will be useful, not just if there’s ever an act of terrorism committed in Kentucky, but also for normal operations.
“I don’t think we will ever reach a point where we have every piece of equipment we need. We kind of have to chip away at that, and this is part of that process. But we’re one step closer by receiving this funding, and getting this equipment in our hands,” he said.