CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - The Craighead County Rural Fire Association held their quarterly meeting Monday night discussing the issues they have had with the radio system they've operated on for 30 years.
According to David Moore with the Craighead County Office of Emergency Management, the rural fire radio system has sparked concerns with volunteer fire departments in the county.
"It is a standalone system," said Moore. "It is separated from the regular dispatch center's console, which is an issue. This system is also getting older in technology so we are in need of an upgrade."
Moore also said having the rural fire radio system integrated with dispatch center's radio console will make communication more reliable.
"The radio within dispatch are sitting off to the side and are not integrated," said Moore. "We have to work through Jeff Presley with E-911 to make that happen."
Moore said another downfall with being on a separate radio console is that the calls are not recorded.
"We can't record any of the calls that come in so we can't document the times or places mentioned in a call," said Moore. "We can only estimate."
Moore said a benefit to having an integrated radio console would be the convenience of access.
"If that dispatch console, where it is setting is not being manned at that particular time, someone has to get up and walk over to it to answer that radio," said Moore. "That can be an issue if there is only one dispatcher. Without this separate console, a dispatcher can answer any of the department's calls as they would a regular call."
Philadelphia Fire Chief Curtis Miller was in attendance and he said the discussion over the radio system has been ongoing for years.
"We have had issues across the board," said Miller. "We've had problems with communicating with dispatch because our radios are not strong enough to reach them, we have had lightning hit our equipment, and we have had equipment that just does not work for us."
Miller said he would like to see a better future for the radio systems become a reality.
"If we cannot communicate with dispatch, we cannot properly serve the community," said Miller. "That could cost property. That could cost lives."
Moore said he hopes the discussion Monday night will be the beginning of a long-range plan.
"First we need to get the radio on the same console, then we can move to the next step which is designing the next generation of radio systems that the Craighead County fire departments will be using."
Moore said as soon as Presley can provide a cost estimate it would take to integrate the radio systems, they can move forward with the integration process.
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