Muskogee (OK) firefighters are poised to obtain new technology from the Oklahoma Department of Homeland Security, which will aid them in detecting unseen hazards.

City councilors unanimously approved a $24,500 grant for the fire department to purchase a handheld radiation detector through Homeland Security. The Muskogee Fire Department was one of 11 slated for a new detector, said Kim Carter, the director of Homeland Security.

“We build all this with terrorism in mind — that’s what Homeland Security does,” Carter said. “But there’s an ancillary benefit that all this equipment can be used for day-to-day operations.”

City councilors approved signing the grant over to the Department of Homeland Security, which will use the state’s buying power to purchase the detectors, Fire Chief Mike O’Dell said during a recent Finance Committee meeting.

“This grant works a little different than most grants,” O’Dell said during the finance committee meeting.

Homeland Security put in for the grant, and the grant was awarded to the fire department, O’Dell said at the committee meeting.

Carter said the fire department’s Hazardous Materials unit is part of Homeland Security’s Regional Response System.

“Our Regional Response System is about 115 trucks and trailers full of specialized equipment scattered strategically all across the state of Oklahoma to be able to respond to any type of emergency we might have,” he said.

Carter said low-level radiological materials are often used in Oklahoma in the oil and medical industries. He said it is not uncommon to have an accident or emergency in which emergency personnel need to know with what they are dealing.

“Your typical HazMat runs that they will make are chemical spills and those types of things,” Carter said.

“I don’t know that they’ve come across a radiological event at all. But they could, so we like to have that type of equipment they can use.”

Interim City Manager Roy Tucker said the grant will replace a Cold War-era detector.

“It’s one of those things you’d rather have and not need than need and not have,” Tucker said.

The city should receive the new unit by early June, he said.

Source; Muskogee (OK) Phoenix