LIMA — Two state Homeland Security Program grants will provide funds for a new bomb-sniffing dog and for new air-monitoring equipment for Allen County.
If the state money were not available, a local official says the county would not be able to replace the dog or the equipment and learn to deal with less.
“One of the grants is for $10,000 and that is to replace one of the bomb-sniffing dogs, that is basically being retired, so that keeps us at four dogs, which is what we tried to maintain over the past 10 years or so,” Allen County Emergency Management Agency Director Russ Decker said Thursday after receiving approval from the Allen County commissioners to accept the grants. “We are now trying to assign those to the bomb technicians on the bomb squad so when the dogs go out they are actually with a bomb technician.”
Decker said the new dog will be assigned to Matt Parker with the Lima Fire Department.
The second grant totaled $17,966 to replace seven air monitors and a calibration system for the county HAZ-MAT team.
“The equipment is critically important because it is for monitoring chemicals in the air that you cannot see,” Decker said. “For instance, we had an event a couple of weeks ago where we had some flaring at the refinery, so the HAZ-MAT team used the air-monitoring equipment to make certain what was in the air downwind and in the smoke did not put people in harm’s way.”
The existing equipment has been in service for more than 10 years and the company which manufactured the equipment is no longer making replacement parts, Decker said.
Decker welcomed the funds.
“This is $40,000 that we don’t have,” Decker said. “The level of funding we have for our agency this year is the exact same level we had in 2002.”
Decker explained his agency’s budget could not afford to replace the dog or the equipment, stating the county would have to operate with three dogs instead of four and his agency would be forced to use the air-monitoring equipment until it failed, essentially.
“This is the right way to do it — replace it, keep everything functioning at the levels that we have been,” Decker said. “So we are grateful to get those grant dollars.”