New technology to provide better services from rural fire departments

Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 7:38 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - An upgrade to rural fire departments across Craighead County is going to help them better protect you in an emergency.

The upgrades were made possible by the Southridge Fire Department, which applied for and received a FEMA grant for $900,000 to join the Arkansas Wireless Information Network radio system.

It’s a move officials said was very needed.

“We have been picking up sound from Memphis and it was clogging up the radio channel,” said Lieutenant Keith Beeson. “We get a lot of static it was kind of a job to be able to communicate with other responders.”

The new system will allow one department to contact another just with the flick of a switch and join any talk room around the county.

Anthony Coy, Director of Emergency Management for Craighead County said the system could be lifesaving in some cases.

“It will provide additional safety measures for them and their communications,” he said. “It will also allow them to talk better between departments, and if we have a disaster again and we have departments coming in from other counties, they will be able to communicate with them.”

Coy said since 2005, having everyone on the same wavelength has been a dream of his.

“The blessing now that we have all first responders in Craighead County on the same station, things are going to be so much smoother,” he said.

Coy stressed this is just the beginning for ways different agencies can communicate throughout the county.

“We have even made preparations to put our road department on that same system,” he added.

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