Greenville’s police and fire departments are improving the way they communicate on duty.
Both departments have recently completed an extensive upgrade to a new radio system, which provides a stronger signal and is meant to help the city save money over the long run, according to officials.
According to Russell Thompson, Greenville’s fire chief, the new radio system came in handy when some of Greenville’s firefighters helped rescue two men after a trench collapse in Oakwood on March 8.
“The whole time when we were responding down there, we were on the tactical channel that they were using for that operation,” Chief Thompson said. “So we can hear all the communications going on for the whole time the whole travel distance. And that’s simply something we could not have ever achieved on VHF.”
The new radios are part of the Multi-Agency Radio Communications System, also known as MARCS, which is run by the state. It’s an upgrade from the previously used VHF radios, Thompson said.
The new radios allow first responders from different agencies to communicate from anywhere in the state, according to Lt. Scot Ross of the Greenville Police Department.
“Since it’s a statewide system, if we go anywhere in the state, we can contact our dispatch center,” Lt. Ross said.
The new radios carry a much stronger signal, according to officials. The old VHF radios did not work outside city limits and often could barely be used inside large buildings such as schools, Chief Thompson said.
“The new K-8 school that’s out on Ohio Street – when that was built, we went in there and found out all kinds of issues talking out of the building on VHF,” Thompson said. “Now that the MARCS system is up, everything inside that school – we can go in there, just about anywhere on the MARCS radio and get out of the building.”
According to Greenville safety and service director Curt Garrison, the new radio system is also meant to save the city money over the long term. The city had to purchase its own radio equipment at about $150,000 dollars in addition to a $230,000 upgrade at the dispatch center, Garrison said. But for a monthly fee, the state takes care of the rest, he added.
“By being on that state system, the state maintains the towers, the antennas that enable us to talk on the system,” Garrison said.
Other agencies in Darke County are still in the process of upgrading to the MARCS radio system, Garrison said. Greenville’s EMS unit will use the new radios once the Darke County agencies completes their upgrades, he added.