Greenville firefighters hope to boost radio signals with new legislation

GREENVILLE, SC – When in an emergency situation arises, it’s all hands on deck for first responders.
“Unfortunately the reality of active shooters are becoming more prevalent,” said Tristan Johnson, Fire Inspector for the city of Greenville. “We’ve seen them in every city and every town.”
That’s why communication is critical.
Johnson said that it’s because of national tragedies like 9/11, Sandy Hook and Columbine, that laws are changing to help first responders speak with each other efficiently and quickly.
Now, Greenville City Council is considering new legislation that would require radio signals be tested inside large-scale businesses, before firefighters are called there for an emergency.
“They’ve introduced this new coverage or new law called the First Responder Radio Coverage initiative,” said Johnson, referring to a new mandate by the International Fire Code in 2015. “This is going to require every building to undergo a test. That test is going to entail somebody is taking a radio, a third party vendor, and making sure that radio coverage can get out of the building on all levels. Basement and top.”
Now, those requirements are coming into effect in Greenville.
According to the ordinance proposed to Greenville City Council on Monday, if a preliminary test showed that radio signals were weak for first responders, that business owner would be required to purchase a repeater, a device used to boost the signal.
“A repeater in essence is almost like an amplifier, and so your radio goes to that amplifier first and it’s going to help it push itself out of the building,” Johnson explained. “So if the walls are concrete or you’re below grounds, or anything that would typically impede that signal from getting out, it’s going to allow it to boost to get out and transmit where it needs to be.”
Bon Secours St. Francis Hopsital System told 7 News on Wednesday that they’ve had receivers in place for several years after discovering that firefighters couldn’t use their radio’s past the third or fourth floor in one of their buildings.
As a result, Bon Secours St. Francis Health System said they paid to put in repeaters to strengthen their signal & allow firefighters to communicate with their radio system throughout the hospital.

“Communication is a big issue for firemen,” said Safety & Security Director, Bruce Spaulding. “The biggest things they are responsible for is to put out the fire and to account for everyone in the building. They can’t do that if they can’t communicate. We at Bon Secoursknow how critical that communication can be, and that’s why we felt it was so important to invest in a repeater and a system to help them communicate throughout our building.

City Council is set to take up the ordinance for a second and final reading at their next meeting in January.
The ordinance requires business owners to buy their own repeaters, as well as pay a $100 installation fee.
“To have safety for your employees and the people who use your building, I don’t think it’ll be a problem,” said Greenville city councilwoman Lillian Brock Flemming on Wednesday. Brock Flemming indicated there would be no reason for the ordinance not to pass.
A copy of the ordinance can be found here:

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