Thanks to the grant-writing skills of West Manatee Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Brett Pollock, the Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded an $800,000 grant this month to improve Manatee County fire-rescue communications.
“Brett Pollock should be congratulated on this,” said WMFR Commission Chair Randy Cooper at the district’s Feb. 16 meeting. “I’m really impressed with his effort. His grant writing makes us look very good.”
Cooper also credited U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, and the Manatee County Fire Chiefs Association for their support in obtaining the grant.
Although Pollock wrote the regional application, all fire districts and departments in Manatee County will benefit with funding to help replace some 286 portable and mobile radios. Depending on pricing, Pollock hopes the grant will allow for even more radio replacements.
“Radios are a vital part of what we do,” he said, “having our radios function properly (is vital) to our job as emergency responders.”
FEMA used the peer-review process to award the grant, the largest awarded to the department and the only regional grant, according to Pollock.
WMFR Chief Andy Price said the district was looking at doing its own radio replacements, and the grant has provided a “tremendous cost savings.”
Pollock said West Manatee will realize $97,000 in savings.
The funds are limited to replacing obsolete equipment.
“I couldn’t have written the grant without the cooperation and data input from all the departments,” Pollock said.
In other matters, with the dissenting vote of Commissioner Scott Ricci and absence of Commissioner Jesse Davis, the commission approved 3-1 a motion to seek requests for proposals from contractors to remodel Station No. 2, 10350 Cortez Road, Bradenton.
Ricci said the district wants to explore options for the station’s parking lot, possibly obtaining more land or moving the cell tower, before undertaking the RFP process.
Other commissioners said the options could still be explored during the process.
Chief Andy Price said, “Personally, I feel the need to get the project off the ground.”
At the commission’s December meeting, Cooper indicated a consideration for remodeling Station #2, which was not part of the 2011 project, is the possibility of the firefighters’ living quarters being relocated.
The remodeling of Station No. 2 is similar in scope to the 2011 remodeling of Station No. 1, both having a projected cost of $150,000-$200,000, according to Cooper.