Hardin Co. Fire Department goes digital with FEMA grant

HARDIN COUNTY, Tenn. — The Hardin County Fire Department says the middle of an emergency, when lives are at stake, is no time to lose vital communication.

“It’s very important to be able to communicate to our firefighters that are in doing search and rescue, for the incident commander to be able to communicate to them,” said Chief Melvin Martin of the Hardin County Fire Department.

This is why Chief Martin says the fire department will soon go digital, thanks to a $358,000 Regional Communications Grant from FEMA.

“We need an additional fire department. We need the National Guard. Whatever that is, we need to know that when we push that button, that we’re able to get from one point to another,” said Capt. Matthew Oakley of the Hardin County Fire Department.

Chief Martin says the radio that is currently in their trucks is about 10 years old. Hardin County Fire Department representatives say, with the constant changes in technology, it’s time for an upgrade.

“As years have passed, of course, wear and tear on equipment, technology is increasing day by day,” Oakley said.

The fire department says they plan to upgrade mobile radios used in initial response vehicles as well as portable radios such as walkie talkies. They say these new radio systems will also include GPS locating capabilities.

“If we were to have a down firefighter, we would be able to pinpoint them and get a better location, versus having to go in and search a whole house,” Oakley said.

They also plan to add additional towers to improve radio transmission in more rural parts of the county.

“When it comes down to public safety and life safety, there’s no room for technical failure,” Oakley said.

Chief Martin says this upgrade to digital equipment will help them correlate communication with the recently upgraded 911 call center in Hardin County. He says they plan to have the new equipment installed and in working order in three to four months.

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