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Grant will pay for new technology for firefighters

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Grant will pay for new technology for firefighters
Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

During these days of penny pinching and dollar stretching, a $23,500 federal grant award to the Farmington Fire Department comes in handy.

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The Assistance to Firefighters Grant award, received last month, is the third such grant Farmington has received in as many years. The first helped the local department buy breathing apparatus, the second went toward the purchase of new turnout gear for firefighters. This one puts new computers in all of Farmington's first-response vehicles.

Two laptop computers were purchased for the two chief's vehicles last year, Farmington fire marshal John Powers said, and the department had budgeted for another two for emergency vehicles for this year. The grant, though, will help to buy as many as five more, which means the allocation for the two can now go to cover other expenses.

The added technology has a number of benefits. The computers will have maps, property records and other data stored on them, allowing fire and rescue personnel to pull up helpful information while responding to a crisis. For instance, if firefighters are called to a scene, they will know things like where hazards such as gas or electric lines are located before they arrive.

"It's nice, too, in that we will be able to collect fire call and rescue data in the field electronically, which will save us time because we can eliminate the duplication of paperwork," Powers said. "It also enables us to reduce response times with the accurate call data and mapping system, especially when it comes to mutual aid calls in areas we're not familiar with."

The AFG fire grants, as they are called, were started by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 2001, as a way to help local departments fund necessary equipment purchases that are not covered in city budgets. According to FEMA's website, the grant is designed to help firefighters and first responders "to obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training and other resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards."

This year's application was written by Powers and Farmington fire chief no. 3 Troy Corrigan. One of the requirements of the grant was a 5 percent match, which was paid for by the Farmington Fire Relief Association.

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