LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - So many of the headlines lately are about programs and government services losing money and cutting back - but not today. Firefighters across the region will benefit from a huge grant that will improve safety.
The grant is the largest of its kind in the country, totaling $1.7 million with almost another half- million in matching funds in local dollars.
State and city officials including Mayor Jerry Abramson, Rep. John Yarmuth, local fire chiefs and FEMA officials gathered Friday morning to announce the good news.
The money will be used to replace 15-year-old equipment with the latest technology - called the PASS System, which will allow each firefighter will have a transponder that hooks to their coat or oxygen tank that feeds a signal back to a computer.
The information will be fed to the commander on the scene, who will then know where every first responder is.
And the system also allows for distress calls, something that is unique about this grant because it's for an entire region instead of a single city of department.
Twenty two local fire departments in Louisville and southern Indiana will get this life-saving equipment.
"There is nothing that compares to the sinking feeling that you get when you hear the word, 'Mayday,' come over the radio, or when there's a report that a firefighter's missing or trapped," said Louisville Fire & Rescue Chief Greg Frederick. "Even worse is the possibility that a firefighter may not be able to call for help,and a search and rescue effort won't be conducted until it's too late."
All the local firefighters will have the PASS system the summer of 2009.