Fire Department Receives Federal Grant for Radios  (February 27, 2009)

The Washington Township Fire Department applied for and has received a $128,000 Federal grant for the purpose of replacing all two-way radios to comply with approaching FCC requirements. In addition, these radios will allow the Township to transition to Morris County dispatch services at any time in the future should they choose to do so. Each of the three companies, Fairmount, Schooley’s Mountain, and Long Valley, requires mobile and portable radios, as well as pagers to be replaced.

The specific objective of the Washington Township Fire Department is to meet the goal of replacing outdated radio communications equipment in order to meet federal requirements, consolidate services, improve interoperability and provide a safer and more efficient fire ground environment for our firefighters and residents.

Part of a possible consolidation to County services would include a move to the countywide communications infrastructure, which will provide a common interoperable radio platform for all emergency services throughout the County. There are presently many radio frequencies across all bands in use by public safety agencies in the County. A move for consolidation would go a long way toward simplifying inter-agency communication as well as reducing maintenance of individual, disparate systems. In receiving this grant, Washington Township can move from their conventional, analog VHF high band system to the County’s digital, trunked UHF system.

In addition to the benefits of consolidation, improved infrastructure and interoperable communications, the Federal Communications Commission is requiring all two-way radio systems operate in a narrow-band mode by January 1, 2013. This means that all licensees must implement equipment that is designed to operate on channel bandwidths of 12.5 kHz or less, and any equipment that is not capable of this needs to be replaced. Even if Washington Township were not to move to a consolidated dispatch center and remain on its existing frequencies, most of the communications infrastructure would need to be replaced by this date anyway. This project alleviates the need to replace equipment in the existing older technology system. The proposed radios will be compatible with existing County radios and those of other municipalities transitioning to County dispatch, thereby improving interoperability.

The grant funds will be used to purchase 52 portable radios and 94 alerting pagers for the volunteers, and to add to or upgrade the mobile radios provided by the County to allow for remote “out of cab” operation on apparatus and command vehicles.

The procurement of this communications equipment will also allow the Department to standardize on a common specification as used throughout the County, rather than deal with the various makes, models and capacities that arise with loss and damage replacement purchases over time. This will simplify operation and reduce costs through interchangeable batteries, parts and accessories.




The Washington Township residents and firefighters will benefit from the new equipment through improvement of the volunteer fire companies’ ability to respond and communicate to fire and other emergency response needs. They will be equipped with up-to-date technology so our firefighters can more safely respond whenever the community needs them.

The Department is grateful for the support of the Township Committee and Congressman Frelinghuysen for their guidance and assistance in securing the funding for this much needed equipment.

Click here for Meghan Van Dyk's Daily Record Article.

Click here for Congressman Frelinghuysen's congratulatory letter.

Updates with more information will be posted as this equipment is ordered and delivered.