Updated Mon, Jul 7, 2014 5:05 pm
The budget update that went into effect with the start of the new fiscal year last week includes some extra money for small fire departments to join a statewide radio system.
For years, the state has been working to upgrade the way first responders converging on big emergency scenes talk to each other, since their communications systems can be very different.
The Multi-Agency Radio Communications System, or MARCS, was developed to help. State Fire Marshal Larry Flowers said most law enforcement in big cities now have MARCS radios, but they’re not common in small fire departments.
“You get into rural Ohio and the rural counties, oftentimes there’s a sheriff and the law enforcement folks are on MARCS," Flowers said. "They want to get on MARCS but they just can’t afford the equipment or the fees.”
The budget update that went into effect last week has $3 million that will be doled out in MARCS grants to fire departments serving populations of less than 25,000. Flowers says that won’t cover all the departments that aren’t using MARCS, but he says it will help.