Athens County Firefighters Association Pres. Dale Sinclair Discusses New Repeaters

Fire Departments to Receive Communication Upgrade

By: ,
Posted on:

< < Back to

ATHENS, Ohio – Imagine an emergency situation in rural Athens County that requires more reinforcements than expected.  However, the rough terrain of the area blocks the radio signals. Rural fire departments in Athens County frequently face that situation.  But thanks funding from the Athens County Commission, local fire departments will receive radio repeaters to improve communication.

What is the contract?

On Tuesday, the Athens County Commission approved a contract with county fire departments to upgrade their communication systems. The commission will allocate $23,066 to purchase the equipment from B&C Communications.

Which departments are involved?

The contract will provide radio repeaters to 13 fire departments in Athens County.  The 13 fire departments include 12 volunteer departments and the Nelsonville Fire Department.  The county will provide the equipment at no cost to the departments.  However, installation and maintenance services will not be provided.  Athens County Commissioner Lenny Eliason said that the life-span of the repeaters is from seven to ten years.

“It’s going to be up to the departments to keep the maintenance up on them [the repeaters],” Eliason said. “So, the longer the maintenance is done, the longer they’ll last.”

The Richland Area Fire Department, one of thirteen departments receiving repeaters.
The Richland Area Fire Department, one of thirteen departments receiving repeaters.

Most of the departments are using radio systems that are over a decade old.  The Richland Area Fire Department purchased its radio systems in 2001 and 2003 through homeland security grants after the terrorist attacks in New York on September 11, 2001.

How the repeaters help?

When on the scene, firefighters use lower-powered handheld radios to communicate with each other and with the Athens 911 Center.  To boost those signals, each department will install a repeater in one of their trucks, allowing the handheld radios to use the higher-powered radios.  This provides a stronger signal which improves the effectiveness of communication from valleys or distant locations.  Athens County Firefighters Association President Dale Sinclair said this will be a major improvement.

“If we need something while we’re on a run, or if we call for mutual aid from another department, it allows us to get out and be able to talk back to the 911 Center,” said Sinclair.

Equipment hanging inside the Richland Area Fire Department.
Equipment hanging inside the Richland Area Fire Department.

The contract must be signed by the departments involved. The Athens City Fire Department will not be a part of the purchase.