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North Canton Fire & EMS Gets Federal Grant for Radio System

The new radio system gives North Canton the ability to talk to agencies throughout the state

now can talk countywide and statewide with other agencies after getting a federal grant for a new radio system in 2011.

The biggest reason the department sought the $246,000 grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, though, was to assist the in the event of an emergency. The radios — 30 portable and 14 mobile— operate through the Multi-Agency Radio Communication System (MARCS), Fire Chief John Bacon said.

North Canton Fire and EMS responds to emergencies at the Akron-Canton Airport about once a year and trains there twice a year, Bacon said.

The radios cost North Canton $12,000 because the city must match a portion of the grant.

“This was high on our grant wish list, so we figured we should go for it while there are still grants to get,” Bacon said.

The radio system positions North Canton Fire and EMS to provide mutual aid and communicate with other departments throughout the state.

“If something happens where we have to go across the state for something, we can,” Bacon said. “And if something major happens in the city, and we have to bring someone from outside the area, like a search and rescue, we can talk to them.”

Another plus? The radio system gives the department more channels and lessens the chance a station will be tied up.

“We can run multiple events,” Bacon said. “We can have … two fire calls, two ambulance calls, and everybody can operate on a separate channel so we’re not talking over each other.”

Scott Kelly, a firefighter and fire inspector, worked to get the grant for North Canton.

“This is a grant we kind of forgot about and never thought we’d get until we got the phone call that we got the grant,” Kelly said. “It was a lot of money, a lot of equipment. It was one of those things: All they can do is say no. And they said yes.”

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