Habersham County has announced it has received over three-quarters of a million dollars in grant funding to enhance public safety. The money, which comes from organizations like FEMA, GEMA and the Assistance to Firefighters Grant, will be used to assist with daily operations and future disaster recovery.
In early July, Habersham County Emergency Services was awarded $731,909.09 through the 2019 Assistance to Firefighters Grant for the purchase of a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA). This funding was secured by Emergency Services Director Chad Black and his support staff.
According to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, the replacement of SCBA is required every 15-years. Habersham County’s required replacement time is approaching in 2023.
By receiving this grant two years early, the county says it will use the extra time as an opportunity to surplus current SCBA and cylinders to a company that can refurbish this equipment for resell to cover the 10% match required to secure the grant.
“This saves the county taxpayers to only having to cover 10% of the total cost of the SCBA and our requirement to replace at end of 15-year service,” said Black. “And depending on how much we can get for our current SCBA and cylinders, even less than the 10% required.”
Two additional grants were secured by 911/EMA Director Lynn Smith for the benefit of future storm preparations.
In September 2017, Hurricane Irma left widespread destruction across North East Georgia. Hurricane Irma made landfall in southwest Florida on September 10, 2017. Irma then moved northward into Georgia through the day on September 10th, continuing to bring widespread wind damage and heavy rainfall along its track.
As a result, Hurricane Irma caused major destruction to Georgia and Habersham County.
The amount of damage sustained by Habersham County resulted in a Presidential Declaration. This declaration allowed 911/EMA Director Lynn Smith to apply for FEMA/GEMA grants to better prepare Habersham county for storms like Hurricane Irma.
In early 2018, Smith applied for grant funding of two power generators through FEMA/GAMA in 2018 and has worked diligently to secure the grants since that time. The application and award process have taken over two years.
On July 2, 2020, Smith was notified that Habersham County received both grants totaling over $50,000. Installation preparations have begun for the generators to be placed at Fire Station 17 and EMS station 21. The department plans to have the installation completed by December 2020.
"I want to personally thank Habersham County Manager, Phil Sutton, and his staff for their incredible efforts in securing over $33 Million in grants over the last five years from state and federal sources,” said Chairman Stacy Hall. “Accessing these funds requires a great deal of planning and work. This outside funding has been a tremendous blessing to our community and has allowed our county government to provide much-needed services while maintaining some of the lowest property taxes in the state of Georgia."