GREENVILLE Co., SC (WSPA) – Greenville County Fire Departments will be conducting field strength assessments for their new radio system, according to Planning Coordinator Jessica Stumpf.
The Boiling Springs Fire District was one of those agencies testing out the new Palmetto 800 radio’s on Wednesday, making sure they could get clear signals out of the 100 businesses they’ve decided to check.
“We’ve run into some issues where we’ve run into a loss of signal or gargled communication, but for the most part we’ve had pretty clear signals and have been able to communicate directly,” said Chris Camacho, the district’s Fire Inspector.
Camacho explained that glass, concrete and metal can often times block a signal from getting outside of a building.
In this case, repeaters are often times needed to be installed in order to amplify it.
Testing the new radio’s comes at a time when mass shootings have caused national concern, putting pressure on first-responders to be ready to respond to such threats at any time.
“If we have a fire situation or an active shooter situation and you have people inside a building, if you can’t get that communication outside of the building, obviously lives could be at stake,” said Jeff Nelson, Assistant Fire Chief and Fire Marshal of the Boiling Springs Fire District.
According to Frances Moore who works as the city’s communications administrator, the total cost of the new radio’s adds up to roughly $2.5 million dollars, paid for with the help of grant money and to be implemented over a 4-year period.
With all county agencies on one system, including Fire, EMS and Law Enforcement, communication between agencies would be direct and without the need for a third-party dispatcher.
“If we need to communicate with other agencies, this gives us the ability to do so,” said Nelson.
On Tuesday, open communication between several agencies proved effective when Greenville Police, the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office and South Carolina Highway Patrol were able end a vehicle chase in only 9 minutes.
Camacho added that the sooner all agencies make the switch, the safer it will be for everyone in the county.
“In the event of an emergency, communication is integral,” he said.
According to Moore, repeaters placed in businesses who need frequencies amplified will be tested annually to make sure they work properly.
She also told 7-News that the next step will be to train all fire personnel in the county on how to use the radios.