Vancouver fire to get new radios with grant

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The Vancouver Fire Department will be replacing 20-year-old portable radios using money from a FEMA grant.

The department was recently notified that it was awarded about $350,000 for the radios. The money will be used to replace radios used by personnel in first responding units, including truck and engine crews, said Division Chief Steve Eldred.

The new radios will be designed for firefighters’ use, Eldred said. That means they should have bigger buttons, knobs and bright colors, so they can be seen in the dark. They’ll also be cheaper to repair and have parts that are more available.

“We struggle getting them repaired now,” he said. He heard the manufacturer would only have parts for the old radios for three or four more years.

Personnel who don’t get new radios can continue to use the old ones, Eldred said. The department will keep old radios to use as parts for repairs.