Greenville City Council members on Monday gave initial approval to spending more than a half million dollars to begin replacing radios used by the city’s emergency responders.
Fran Moore, the city’s communications administrator, told members of the council’s committee on public safety and general government late last year that when radios used by Greenville’s emergency responders need repairs, the city sometimes has to go to eBay to look for parts.
The radios used by police, fire, public works, parks and recreation, and dispatch are 2003 models that are nearing the end of their useful life and no longer supported by the vendor.
It will cost nearly $2.3 million to replace them. The city needs 413 hand-held and 209 vehicle-mounted radios.
The police and fire department radios are interoperable but the police department has loaned radios to the city’s parks and recreation and public works departments to use during weather events and other emergencies so they can communicate.
The $575,635 will be taken out of the city’s capital projects fund balance and replace all of the fire department radios. After those are replaced, some of the old radios could be used as spares and for parts until all of the city’s public safety radios are replaced over a period of several years.
Fire Chief Stephen Kovalcik said all the department’s radios need to be replaced at the same time because they are assigned to rigs, not specific firefighters. The department needs uniformity in equipment so firefighters know the radio controls and can operate them in smoke-filled buildings with zero visibility, he said.
“It’s a safety issue,” Kovalcik said.