I spoke with County Judge Rick Campbell Friday afternoon and wanted to bring you up-to-date on the volunteer fire department radio situation in the county.
Judge Campbell advised as of last week, the older analog radio equipment that Sheriff Willis Blackwell had taken out of use last month, is now back operational allowing the Shelbyville and West Shelby County fire departments to have two-way radio communications again. Judge Campbell said the antenna and repeater were installed on the cable TV tower in East Center last Tuesday, thanks to over $150-thousand in state and local private funding.
He said Shelbyville and West Shelby County were the only departments in the county that couldn’t communicate after being paged out, since they didn’t have their own private radio channels like those in Timpson, Tenaha, Joaquin and Center.
A decision was made by Sheriff Blackwell to allow paging of fires on the sheriff’s office frequency, but asked departments to not carry on two-way communications.
Judge Campbell said a new Emergency Only Channel has been put into use that will be utilized by the county’s fire departments during mutual aid events and other county-wide emergencies.
The return of the sheriff’s department analog equipment may be short-term, as he said the FCC is requiring all analog radio equipment to be turned off in 2015. That means more funding will be needed as fire departments will be looking at complete radio replacements to digital.