First responders agree the ability to communicate is critical during an emergency. Realizing this, West Virginia University and the City of Morgantown are teaming to improve communications during emergency incidents that occur on campus and within the City.

In a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed today (Sept. 24) by representatives of the University and the City, both parties agreed to contribute $10,000 towards the purchase of state-of-the-art radio communications equipment for the Morgantown Fire Department. Additionally, WVU has agreed to contribute $10,000 in both 2004 and 2005 for equipment, subject to the availability of funds and provided the City will match the amount.

WVU is committed to doing all it can to ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff,said Amir Mohammadi, associate vice president for student affairs and WVU s chief housing officer.We are excited to be entering into this agreement with the city and believe it will not only benefit the University, but the entire Morgantown community.

Currently, portableradios used by the Morgantown Fire Department can not be interfaced with WVU communications equipment, making it difficultif not impossiblefor fire personnel to talk by radio with University housing and physical plant personnel from the scene of an incident. Under the MOU , the City will select the type and brand of equipment that it believes will best serve its emergency needs, consulting with WVU to ensure interface compatibility with University equipment.

On behalf of city residents, city council and the fire department, I want to thank WVU for this contribution,said Morgantown Mayor Ron Justice.Being able to communicate can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency. This partnership will go a long way in making Morgantown a safer place to live.

With the initial $20,000, the fire department will be able to purchase 20-24 new portableradios plus ancillary equipment like charger units and spare batteries, said Morgantown Fire Department Capt. Bill Graham.

We are thrilled,Graham said.We work with University Housing already on so many different safety training exercises that this really makes sense.

Last fall, a training exercise involving WVU , Morgantown Fire Department and other area first responders revealed a need for better emergency communications equipment, he noted.

Graham said the departments 13-year-old portableradios currently have only six channels and can not scan. The new radios will have 16 channels plus scanning ability.

With these new radios, everyone involved from first responders to housing to maintenance will be able to go to one channel to converse,Graham said.With the scanning ability, more than one emergency channel can be monitored. This is important when you have a lot of different agencies and departments involved. Communication will certainly be improved.