Enjoy all your local news and sports for less than 6¢ per day.

Subscribe Now

Marble Falls Fire Rescue seeks grant for new radios totaling $58K

Marble Falls firefighters James Kleinmeyer (left) and Ross Moore

Marble Falls firefighters James Kleinmeyer (left) and Ross Moore stand outside of Fire Station No. 1 with outdated portable radios. The department hopes to receive new radios in the coming months courtesy of a federal grant. Staff photo by Nathan Bush

Marble Falls Fire Rescue could soon receive $58,000 worth of new multiband radios designed to work even in hilly areas. 

“Our radio is a little bit different out here in the Hill Country because of all the hills,” Marble Falls Fire Chief Russell Sander said. “(Multiband) actually allows us to communicate with departments (in Travis and Williamson counties) easier.”

Marble Falls and 11 other area departments in the Burnet County Emergency Services Association are applying for a variety of grants for new portable and mobile radios. If awarded, Marble Falls Fire Rescue will get six portable radios and three mobile radios, Sander told the City Council at its Feb. 7 regular meeting, when it officially approved the application process. The city is required to pay 10 percent of the cost.

Mobile radios are used inside the department’s trucks and other vehicles. Portable radios are a means of communication for firefighters in the field. 

“Portable radios are the little handheld radios firefighters carry on all calls,” Sander told “It’s more like a walkie-talkie.”

He also anticipates a drop in the cost of the radios by the time the grant is approved.

“When I’ve experienced this — when you order a whole bunch of radios like that — the manufacturer will start giving you some discounts,” Sander said.

The new radios were requested as a safety measure to avoid disaster in what Sander calls “explosive atmospheres.”

“An explosive atmosphere is an atmosphere that has any type of materials with fumes that could ignite,” Sander said. “All it takes is a small spark to ignite. If the radios aren’t intrinsically safe, then the electronics in them may actually set off a flash fire or explosion in just the right, perfect conditions in the atmosphere or inside the building, more importantly.”

Also, radios frequently break on the scene.

“You’re in the middle of firefighting, it makes it very difficult sometimes,” Sander said. “Things get damaged.”

If the grant is approved, the department could receive the new radios as soon as early fall.