Federal grant money on the way for first responders - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Federal grant money on the way for first responders

June 25, 2003
Dougherty County- When Lieutenant Ron Rowe joined the fire department 18 years ago, he didn't expect to be training to save people from possible terror threats.

"It's a heightened subject that's been brought to the forefront, so more people are on their toes than they would have been I think," said Rowe, who is a training officer with the Albany Fire Department.

Since September 11th, the hazardous material training for emergency crews has continued to grow to include weapons of mass destruction. There are about 150 hazardous material technicians with the Albany Fire Department. Four have already been trained in weapons of mass destruction.

"And that's happened in the last two years," Rowe said.

Last year, the department received 100-thousand dollars in federal grant money for equipment like machines that will tell you what dangerous gases are in the air. Now, more money is on the way. In fact, the state is getting ready to distribute almost seven million dollars for first-responders.

"Each area has a hazards council that has decided what's best for that area as far has making regional response in the case of weapons of mass destruction," said Chief James Arrowood.

The Albany Fire Department hopes the grant money will help by a new truck and trailer for hazardous material response. The current truck is the only one in the department and over-crowded with equipment.

Albany may not seem like a major target for terror threats.

"But that does not just preclude the possibility all together," Arrowood said.

So first-responders, like Lieutenant Rowe, will keep learning to protect us.