Panama City Fire Department Receives Grant; Thousands in Savings - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Panama City Fire Department Receives Grant; Saves the City Thousands

Posted: Updated:

Radio communication is the back bone of the what fire fighters do, and the most recent grant awarded to the Panama City Fire Department came at a perfect time.

Chief Wayne Watts is using the funds from the Port of Panama City grant to improve and upgrade radio systems.

"We like to make sure we have back ups for our back ups for our back ups," said Watts.

Last year the department won moneys that provided new 800 mega hertz radios. Now, this newest grant is helping to provide a back up to their new equipment.

"Certainly, we were excited to just get one of them," said Watts. "The fact that we were able to get both, and take care of what would have been a long problem, we were able to complete the project right away."

"Technology has gotten so advanced now it's what we need to do our job," said Lieutenant Michael Cessani.

Cessani is heavily involved in the grant application process. According to upcoming federal regulations the new radios were a requirement.

"Narrow banding requires all of our radios be updated to a certain type of programming," said Cessani. "And our old radios were not capable of that."

The two grants have the city hundreds of thousands of dollars and over the past ten years Panama City Fire Department grants have saved the city millions.

"The actual total cost to the city for both grants one was a matching grant the city's match was a little over eighteen thousand dollars," said Watts. "But, the value of the equipment is right at $350,000.

"This isn't our money. It belongs to the citizens. So, we try to find any way we can to save money and stretch the money any way we can."

Chief Watts says the new 800 mega hertz radios and VHF radios should last the department for the next twenty years.