Beaufort County receives $893K grant for VIPER radios

Published 4:41 pm Monday, March 25, 2024

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WASHINGTON, N.C. –– An $893,000 Congressionally Directed Spending grant award secured by Sen. Thom Tillis will allow for improvements to the interoperability of Beaufort County’s public safety communications infrastructure. 

The award is included in a $460 billion package of spending bills approved by Congress on March 8 and signed by President Joe Biden on March 9, 2024. Beaufort County will use the funds to purchase 138 portable VIPER radios which will be distributed among various emergency response agencies throughout the county. 

“I am pleased that Beaufort County chose to invest in public safety by purchasing VIPER radios to ensure first responders are able to effectively communicate and respond during an emergency,” said Sen. Tillis. “North Carolina’s first responders are true heroes, and I am proud to have supported Beaufort County’s efforts to secure the safety of its citizens.” 

Seventeen Beaufort County agencies will receive new radios. Those include fire, EMS and emergency management departments. The grant covers the cost of the radios as well as spare batteries and other accessories to accompany the devices. 

The North Carolina Voice Interoperability Plan for Emergency Responders (VIPER) is North Carolina’s statewide mission-critical radio system. Agencies and entities use the VIPER system at the local, state, and federal level to provide both operable and interoperable voice communications for public safety. 

“On behalf of our county citizens, I would like to express our thanks to Senator Tillis and his leadership,” said Frankie Waters, chairman of the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners. “The federal budget allocation of 138 VIPER radios and all of the accessory equipment will allow first responders to better communicate with the county’s emergency team. Our fire and EMS departments provide valuable services during personal emergencies, accidents, and weather events.” 

“Beaufort County Emergency Services would like to thank Senator Thom Tillis for his help in providing funding for the purchase of county-wide VIPER radios,” Emergency Management Coordinator D.C. Linton said. “These radios will ensure interoperability in communications between all Beaufort County agencies. By this advance in technology, we as a county will achieve resiliency and redundancy. Interoperable communications are essential when responding to daily emergency calls or large-scale disasters and these radios will provide that service.” 

The radios will be distributed as follows: 

  • Aurora EMS: 4 radios
  • Aurora Fire: 11 radios
  • Bath Fire: 8 radios
  • Beaufort County EMS/Emergency Management: 15 radios
  • Belhaven Fire: 8 radios
  • Blounts Creek Fire: 8 radios
  • Broad Creek EMS: 4 radios
  • Bunyan Fire: 11 radios
  • Chocowinity EMS: 4 radios
  • Chocowinity Fire: 11 radios
  • Clarks Neck Fire: 11 radios
  • Old Ford Fire: 11 radios
  • Pantego Fire: 6 radios
  • Pinetown EMS: 2 radios
  • Pinetown Fire: 8 radios
  • Pungo River Fire: 9 radios
  • Sidney: 7 radios
    When members of Congress request funds for specific projects, that funding is referred to as Congressionally Directed Spending in the Senate and Community Project Funding in the House. Directed funds were previously known as “earmarks” before a new funding system was implemented in 2022.