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Republican National Convention funds to buy two tactical Tampa Fire Rescue vehicles

Published Feb. 15, 2012

TAMPA — City officials are preparing to spend another $464,000 in federal funds on security gear for the Republican National Convention. This time, Tampa Fire Rescue is the beneficiary.

City Council members will be asked Thursday to buy two specialized vehicles from Pierce Manufacturing: a tactical support vehicle for $296,496 and a truck for Tampa Fire Rescue's SWAT medic team for $167,740.

Fire administrators say both are integral to their plans for the Aug. 27-30 convention.

Though the vehicles would be ready by mid-July, the department expects to use them for years to come.

"Both these vehicles have been needed for a long time," Tampa Fire Rescue Capt. Lonnie Benniefield said.

The tactical support vehicle is a large van that can serve as a mobile command post. Most important, officials say, its communications gear will be able to receive live aerial video from Tampa police helicopters. It would be built in Clearwater.

The other truck would be built in Bradenton for the agency's tactical medical response team, whose members are cross-trained as reserve police officers. The team can go into a variety of dangerous incidents, and is the city's airborne, water and rough terrain rescue team.

Funds for both would come from $50 million that Congress appropriated to pay for security at the convention. Up to two-thirds of those funds are expected to be used to pay, house and feed about 3,000 law enforcement officers being brought in from outside the Tampa Bay area to help police the convention, which could draw up to 15,000 protesters.

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