SANTA FE SPRINGS – Keeping terrorism and emergency preparedness a priority, Fire Department officials will use the bulk of a nearly $250,000 Department of Homeland Security grant to augment communications, officials said Tuesday.Most of the $249,098 grant will go to purchase portable radios that can pick up frequencies from all fire departments in Los Angeles County.With the department’s current radio system, Santa Fe Springs firefighters must carry several radios to communicate with outside agencies.“The new radios will change how we operate in that we will no longer have to carry separate radios to communicate with different departments,” said Chief Neal Welland of the Santa Fe Springs Fire Department. “We’ll only have to carry one radio, and all the frequencies will be on that radio. We won’t have to search for the right radio anymore.”The department has been focused on emergency preparedness since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, adding terrorism threats to preparedness plans that previously dealt only with natural disasters like flooding and earthquakes.Since 9/11, Santa Fe Springs has invested about $2 million from a mix of Department of Homeland Security and city funding into preventing a major terrorist attack.Plans now cover the department’s responses in the event of a biological, chemical or nuclear attack, said City Manager Fred Latham.Among the equipment purchased with federal and local funds are protective suits, drugs that would be administered in the event of a biological or chemical attack, surveillance equipment, and devices that can detect radiological, biological and chemical contaminants, Latham said.Officials also have stockpiled emergency supplies, including food, water, cots and blankets, inside 10 cargo containers placed at various locations in residential and business areas.With the addition of the new radios, the city’s level of preparedness will increase significantly, officials said.“Communications devices are always one of the most vital assets in an emergency,” said Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Branda Napper.The federal grant, called the Assistance to Firefighters Grant, actually was started in 2001, before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. It was designed to address deficiencies in fire departments across the country, including a lack of up-to-date equipment, said Napper.More than 5,000 departments across the country will receive the grant this year, totalling about $600 million, she added.“This is a very competitive grant process,” said Napper. “Out of 21,000 applications this year, only 5,000 will be awarded.” [email protected](562) 698-0955, Ext. 3026 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!