Following years of preparation, some area fire departments began broadcasting on a new UHF radio system this week.
The switch moves fire departments from the low band to high band, Ultra High Frequency. Fire officials say the system will make their job safer and less dependent on obsolete equipment.
Emergency calls for county fire departments are handled through the County Department of Public Safety.
The county communications system handles emergency calls for 16 Municipal Police Departments, 27 fire departments, 16 first aid and rescue squads, and three Mobile Intensive Care Units.
On Tuesday, the Clinton Fire Department and fire departments in Annandale, High Bridge, Lebanon and Quakertown began using the county’s new UHF system. Heller said first aid rescue squads already use the upgraded system.
The cost for the upgrades was $500,000 for the county, and local departments had to purchase their own equipment.
Scott Wintermute, president of the Hunterdon County Fire Chief’s Association, an ex-chief and current President of the Clinton Fire Department, said low band radio is becoming obsolete, and often does not penetrate larger buildings such as schools and large stores, putting firefighters at risk if they can’t call for help or hear the warning of possible danger.
He said the county hired a company to coordinate new frequencies and began acquiring needed equipment. A new tower was built and the equipment was installed.
Locally, Clinton, Annandale, High Bridge, Lebanon and Quakertown went live midnight Tuesday because they have already upgraded and the county infrastructure was in place, said Wintermute.
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