By Hector Gonzalez
February 23, 2015--Santa Monica is getting some extra dollars to beef up terrorism training for first responders while also allocating money for four new Dial A Ride vans.
City Council members at their meeting Tuesday are expected to accept a $308,500 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Urban Areas Security Initiative to provide additional terrorism response training for the Fire Department.
In a separate item, Council members also are scheduled to award a $242,300 contract to buy four clean-fuel vehicles specially designed for the disabled.
Santa Monica Fire Department officials will use the FEMA funding to provide additional training for the department’s terrorism liaison officer and for more training for firefighters to deal with hazardous materials situations, biological and chemical emergencies, and urban search and rescue operations.
Fire officials also will use about $150,000 of the grant to buy related equipment, a staff report said.
About $30,000 of the grant amount would be used to bolster the Santa Monica Police Department’s automated license plate reading system.
The controversial system uses cameras mounted on squad cars and street poles to read the license plates and “record the time, date, and location a particular car was encountered,” according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which opposes the system’s use by police agencies.
Police say the system is used primarily to spot stolen vehicles and bust car thieves.
Since 2001, Santa Monica has received more than $4 million in grants from the Department of Homeland Security to buy equipment and pay for training “to promote information gathering, sharing and response to threats and/or acts of terrorism,” the staff report said.
In a related item on the Council’s agenda Tuesday, Santa Monica will receive an $805,000 U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant to buy a new prop building for the Fire Department’s Training Center on Michigan Avenue.
Firefighters will use the portable prop building to simulate fires and situations involving hazardous materials. The fake building comes with smoke machines and state-of-the-art devices that can create “various hazardous materials” scenarios, said Deputy Fire Chief Tom Clemo.
“The neat thing about it is that it can be bolted together so that we can move it if we need to. It’s a pretty sophisticated,” he said.
Clemo said the new prop building will be “installed and up and running by Aug. 24.”
No matching funds were required for the grant, Clemo said. “It’s fully grant-funded.”
City officials also are recommending the City Council on Tuesday approve a contract to Creative Bus Sales Inc. for four compressed natural gas-fueled vans made by AM General LLC of Indiana. The total amount of the contract was not to exceed $242,314, a staff report said.
The new vans will replace four gasoline-fueled vehicles that have “reached the end of their useful life cycle,” staff said.
Billed by the manufacturer as the “world’s first purpose-built universally accessible vehicle,” the MV-1 vans have fold-out ramps and enough room on the front passenger side to accommodate a person in a wheelchair, according to AM General LLC’s website.
“The MV-1 meets or exceeds the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” the website said.