Greenville first responders at ‘critical point’ with old, broken radios

GREENVILLE, SC – It’s one button that can save a life.
According to Greenville Firefighters, they often times rely on their radio’s as lifelines in dangerous situations.
“This orange one is called a ‘Man Down’ button,” explained Tristan Johnson, Fire Inspector with the city of Greenville. “This is a crucial button for us; that’s the difference between life and death.” 

That’s why Johnson said Tuesday that it’s imperative the city buy new radio’s, and fast, as their older models continue to age.
He explained that their department has been trying to scrounge up spare parts in order to replace broken pieces, after the radio vendor discontinued making the model.
“We’re literally putting our radios together out of a junk box, and I mean that literally. Putting the pieces together so that they can operate.”
Chief Ken Miller expressed similar concerns about the city’s police department radio’s that he said they’ve had for about 20 years.
He added that they’ve had to purchase new parts from third-party vendors like EBay in order to fix the broken pieces.
“We’re just at a critical point where it has to be addressed,” Miller told 7 News.
Miller said they’ve seen everything from a broken knob to a failed circuit board.
He also explained that because the Police Department is using different radio’s from the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, the two agencies can’t communicate with one another when they’re on scene together.
“We need to be able to talk to each other when we have a major event going on. The county supports us but they can’t talk to us on the radio, and we’re at the same scene.”
City-wide replacements for Police, Fire, Public Works and Parks and Rec is expected to cost about $2.3 million dollars, Miller confirmed, and it will likely take 3-5 years before the city makes the purchase.

“We hope to gain functioning, usable good radios that both the fire and police can use interchangeably if we have to,” said Johnson.
7 News reached out to Greenville city’s budget manager on Tuesday for comment about where the money would come from, but did not hear back before the time of the broadcast.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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