Columbia County officials mailed a grant request Wednesday that may mean more than $340,000 in funds for emergency responders.
Georgia recently received nearly $8 million in Homeland Security Grants. The money is being divided in phases among 68 different local departments around the state.
Pam Tucker, director of the county's Emergency Management Agency, is asking for $340,250 in phase two of the grant requests.
If granted, the money is being earmarked for a mobile command post, 90 self-contained breathing devices, an air compressor to refill those devices and decontamination clothing.
"It would be wonderful if we could get all 90 of those air packs for the fire departments. That would be great," Tucker said. "And if we could get a mobile command center."
The self-contained breathing devices will be used by county firefighters and cost nearly $2,600 each, making them the most expensive item asked for in the grant.
Tucker wants to use $100,000 to purchase a RV-sized vehicle to turn into a mobile command center that can be used as a base of operations at any emergency site. Special-purpose local-option sales tax funds will be used to outfit the command center with necessary equipment.
"In case of catastrophe, we need a vehicle that we can send to affected sites and use as a command center to coordinate the rescue and relief efforts," Tucker said. "It's hard to express just how important something like that could be for this area, because it is something we can share with all of the surrounding counties.
"We will be willing to go statewide with his command center. They only consider giving this money to counties that say, 'Yes, we're a team player.' This would be the only mobile command center in east-central Georgia."
The grant has been sent to the All Hazards Council for Area 3, which consists of 25 counties, including Columbia.
To distribute the funds, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency divided the state into eight areas. Each area is overseen by an All Hazards Council, which is composed of emergency responders from the area.
The All Hazards Council will review the application and then make their recommendations to GEMA, which in turn sends the grant to the federal Office of Domestic Preparedness for final approval.
Tucker expects to receive a final answer on the grant request in late August or early September.
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