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Nacogdoches volunteer fire departments having issues with radio communication system


POSTED: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 - 6:08pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 - 10:54pm

Nacogdoches volunteer fire departments are having trouble with their communication radio system. They tell us they've been fighting with the county for a year now to fix it.

"Other departments would be working a fire and need to get to dispatch to assist them and they weren't able to," said Asst. Fire Chief for Central Heights, Appleby fire department James Russell.  

All the volunteer departments in the county had to switch to a new radio system back in July. Nacogdoches County has been working with EF Johnson, out of Dallas, for the past year to upgrade the radio system for all 17 volunteer fire departments in Nacogdoches County. But since then, they've been having major issues with it.

"When you go from a system we had, to a narrowband basically you're going to lose half the power," said Chief of  Lilbert-Looneyville fire department Bobby Brashears.

They said they are not able to contact dispatch, they don't receive pages and there is static through the radio.

"We're just not able to get out on the portables where dispatch is able to hear us clearly," said Brashears.  

The system is still under warranty with EF Johnson, but they said it needs to be fixed or during an emergency, it can be a life or death situation.

Brashears, who is the liaison between the county and the fire departments, says simply the money isn't there.

"Right now our hands are tied because it all boils down to a money issue."

The county's budget for volunteer communication systems is around $300,000.

He said the one they need would could cost up to $4 million.

"If the dispatchers aren't able to get ahold of a department or personnel to respond to a call it could come to life or death," said Russell.

And the departments don't want it to come to that.

"There hasn't been anything yet that we could blame on the radio system but at some point it could happen," said Brashears.  

We tried to contact Nacogdoches County but they would not respond to our questions.

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