The Conway Fire Department Bomb Squad will obtain a new $327,000 robot and send two new technicians off for training later this year.
In November, the Conway Fire Department was awarded a $337,000 grant by the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) as the State Administrative Agency (SAA) for the Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP) from the Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency (DHS FEMA) as a recipient for the FY17 Homeland Security Grant Program under the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Activities (LETPA) category.
CFD Assistant Chief Todd Cardin said the grant would be used toward providing new equipment and new technicians to the Conway Bomb Squad's roster, with $327,000 going toward an Andros FX robot and $10,000 to cover training costs of two technicians.
The FBI certifies 2,400 bomb technicians nationwide, Conway is one of five bomb squads in the state and will feature five technicians once two new technicians are trained in October. The nearest squad to Conway's is located in Little Rock, other bomb squads are located in Ft. Smith and Springdale. The Arkansas State Police also has a bomb squad.
In 2017, the Conway Bomb Squad responded out to 40 calls.
Cardin said the new robot is ordered and should be in by mid-June.
"We're really fortunate to get this grant," he said. "That's how we supply the bomb squad with big-ticket items."
The new Andros FX coming in will replace a 13-year-old robot the squad has been using. Once the new robot is in, Cardin said the 13-year-old model will be refurbished.
He said the city is fortunate to have a bomb squad, noting the Conway Bomb Squad also serves counties just west and north of Faulkner County.
The new robot will allow the bomb squad to respond more efficiently. Cardin also said the new model is stronger, noting it can lift up to 150 pounds.