Upgraded fire radio system needed for volunteer firefighters

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - Craighead County firefighters are in dire need of an upgraded fire radio system, but because it comes at a very expensive cost, they'll have to wait a little longer to fix their issues.

According to Steve Beck, Brookland fire chief, they recently learned upgrading their radio system would cost around $6.1 million.

"We have dealt with this for 25 years now," said Beck. "It is really frustrating because it needs to be taken care of."

Beck said the communication with their radios is unpredictable.

"Some days it is good and some days it is bad," said Beck. "It could be 3:00 and the signal is clear, but then it could be 4:00 and you hear nothing but static."

Beck said the $6.1 million would solve several problems. That money would replace old transmitters, amplifiers, and radios to where the signal would be stronger across the county.

"Some cities are worse than we are with communicating," said Beck. "If we had this upgrade, It would solve this problem. I mean it is a large problem. And if you cannot communicate, it really reduces your effectiveness."

Currently, the county is focusing on merging the fire radio console with the regular console at dispatch after receiving $13,000 for that project.

This would help improve the number of dispatchers who could answer fire calls in the field.

Beck said though he is happy about the merging process, he still feels the signal is an issue that needs to be improved no matter what.

"Unfortunately, I think with that estimate in the air, this project will be put on hold again and we will continue to kick the can down the road with solving the problem," said Beck. "This needs to change."

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