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Third times a charm for firefighters
by Gary Kent
Feb 23, 2012 | 1031 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
PETTUS — Congressman Rubén Hinojosa of the 15th Congressional District and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn have announced that a grant for $224,322 was awarded to the Pettus-Tuleta Volunteer Fire Department.

The funds are for the purchase of a new communications system by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and FEMA.

The Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) will provide the new communication system that will keep all five volunteer fire departments in Bee County on the same frequency for instant communication.

“This funding will help make sure first responders at the Pettus-Tuleta Volunteer Fire Department will have the resources necessary to keep the surrounding communities safe,” Cornyn said. “We have a responsibility to support those working on the front lines every day to protect families, homes and property.”

“I want to congratulate Assistant Fire Chief Clifford Bagwell and all of the brave volunteer firefighters for their efforts in securing this very important grant award,” Hinojosa said.

“The residents of Bee County will now be provided with this Operations and Safety grant, which will assist the volunteer fire departments in keeping residents and their properties safe.”

The AFG will award approximately $380 million in competitive grants to fire departments and non-affiliated EMS organizations.

The Pettus-Tuleta Volunteer Fire Department was one of 16,496 applicants. Only six other fire departments in Texas received AFG’s this year.

“It’s great,” said Bagwell.

He said the department was notified earlier last week by Hinojosa’s office, and then on Friday, he heard from FEMA itself telling him that the department would receive the grant.

“I think this is the best thing that’s happened to first responders in a long, long time,” Bagwell said.

The assistant chief said all emergency responders are going to be required to be able to communicate with each other across the nation.

“We’ve known about this for about four or five years,” Bagwell said. He and his brother, Clinton, have applied for the grant three times during those years, and this time they got the money.

“This puts us over the top,” Bagwell said.

“It’s a big asset to the entire county, because it will be used by all fire departments in the county,” said Pettus Fire Chief Robert Rodgers.

“It went through our name but it’s really for the entire county.

Beeville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Donald C. “Donnie” Morris agreed with Bagwell. He said the grant should allow fire department to have radio towers in every corner of Bee County, allowing communication between all departments.

The grant will allow the department to purchase radios, pagers and base stations that will not only connect all the department’s volunteers but also will allow the department’s firefighters to communicate with other firefighters in the county.

Bagwell said the department will have to come up with 10 percent of the cost of upgrading the communications system, because the federal award is a “matching grant.”

Fortunately, local residents and businesses have been donating funds to the department, Bagwell said, and now those donations can be put to good use.

Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.
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