Lauderdale County Goes Digital

The Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors Monday approved a request to purchase more than 400 new digital radios for volunteer firefighters.

This is just the most recent effort to help local emergency responders meet new FCC regulations. It will mean, however, you won't be able to hear county officers on the scanner anymore.

The same newer model has already been in use by deputies.

To meet FCC requirements, emergency responders within the county are upgrading their communication systems as well.

"We actually started the process four or five years ago while upgrading LEMA's communications, and in the process, found out that narrow (band) compliance was required in 2013 and digital compliance in 2017," said David Sharp, emergency management director.

By meeting that digital requirement now, fire coordinator Allan Dover says the county is saving money.

"Just to go to a narrow band, we were going to have to buy all new radios, basically, at the same price that we're buying them for right now," said Dover. "And we're even going one step further by going digital, which entails having cleaner frequencies and less static."

These are things which Dover and other officials say will ultimately improve the safety of emergency responders and residents at large.

"In the past, at Southeast school, we weren't able to talk on campus with our old hand-held units," said Sheriff Billy Sollie. "And now we're able to talk across the county. That is a tremendous difference for those deputies who make a traffic stop at 2 a.m."

Ultimately, employees and volunteers with Lauderdale County's Emergency Management, Metro Ambulance, the sheriff's department and volunteer firefighters will all use the new digital radios.

Supervisors approved the purchase of 347 portable hand-held digital radios and 67 mobile ones for volunteer firefighters. These will cost $366,000. The new radios are expected to arrive sometime early this spring.

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