Beloit Fire Department to participate in task force

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BELOIT - The Beloit Fire Department will once again will participate in a statewide special rescue task force, and Monday the Beloit City Council took action to approve an agreement paving the way for future federal funding for the city.

The department is one of 11 departments across the state that make up the Wisconsin Urban Search and Rescue Task Force. The task force specializes in urban hazard mitigation, search and rescue and incident stabilization.

The council authorized City Manager Lori Curtis Luther to execute a funding consent and acknowledgment agreement between the city and the state and Department of Military Affairs and Division of Wisconsin Emergency Management. The agreement is necessary for Beloit to receive U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funds for responding to natural and human disasters. The potential funding of around $775,000 is paid by DHS to pay for planning, training and equipment of all task force departments.

Luther said the city has participated in the task force in the past, but said the new agreement was brought forward after payments to task force members were made after the state had fallen behind on reimbursements from the federal fund.

"We wanted to wait until this was cleared before renewing the agreement," Luther said.

The 140-member state team is able to respond to state and national disasters including earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and terrorism-related incidents.

Interim Fire Chief Daniel Pease said the task force was key in being prepared for large scale responses.

"The (task force) requires significant training to ensure this elite group of personnel is ready to respond to disasters," Pease said. "Fire departments play a key role in this task force, and we're happy to have our firefighters continue in their commitment to this training and potential deployment."

In other business:

• The council removed a development proposal by McBain Enterprises and John Patch Entertainment to reconfigure the layout of 2956 Milwaukee Road, 2955 Wyetta Drive, and 1875 Branigan Road for future development after the property owners made a change to the development proposal on Monday afternoon. The plan will now be sent back to the Beloit Plan Commission for review. The Road Dawg and Roadway Inn, and Amusement Fireworks are located on the properties.

• Councilors declared the week of Aug. 18 as Pride Week in Beloit in recognition of the city's LGBT community.

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