The Huntington Fire Department (HFD) reports that things are running smoothly with their new handheld radios that were distributed in late February.
Over 200 handheld radio units were purchased with a $1.2 million “Assistance to Firefighters Grant” that the department received in September from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Having the new handheld radios have already benefited the department during a structure fire that occurred recently. Fire Chief Tony Johnson explained a few of the differences that the new radios have that were helpful that night.
“We were able to hear each other a lot more clearly and didn’t have any worries about radios not working,” Johnson said. “We had that worry before. So everything went really well.”
Other aspects of the radios that have proven to be helpful are a change in design. With knobs being spaced out and larger, it is easier for firefighters to grab onto the knobs while wearing their thick protective gloves.
The radios also have a light-up display at the top of the radio that shows which channel the radio is on and whether or not the radio is scanning.
Each radio is programmed to an individual firefighter. This means that, should a firefighter speak into the radio, specific information about who is speaking will be displayed.
“It also has - if he’s in trouble and can’t get out - an orange button on top that you press and it sends a man-down signal to all of the other radios that are on and to dispatch and tells who that firefighter is that is down.”
The new radios also have noise-cancelling technology, which allows for a firefighter’s voice to be much clearer even with background noise such as trucks running or chainsaws being used in the background.
The older-model radios that the HFD had were nearly 12 years old and could not be used in certain atmospheres due to the risk of sparks. Certain materials on the old radios were also not as heat-safe as the newer versions. The new radios are rated for up to 500-degree heat.
All fire departments in the county have received their hand held radios. Some stations are still working to get the new base radios fully installed.
The life expectancy for the new radios is between 10 and 15 years.