Communications are an important resource for first responders, and for Upshur County firefighters the ability to communicate more efficiently just got better.
"I've known this problem exist with the fire service with their low band frequency and they have a lot of dead spots, they've had a lot of problems so having this opportunity to get this grant and get them started on the siren system, I think is just fantastic," said Jim Farry, Upshur County Office of Emergency Management Director
Earlier this year, the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Affairs helped the Upshur County's Office of Emergency Management get a $50,000 homeland security grant.
The grant allowed 50 additional radios for each of the seven fire departments in the county. The new portable two way radios use the latest technology and can be used with the state's inter-operable radio network. The radios are meant to supplement command and operational capabilities with a more robust radio as part of the post 911 inter-operable radio project.
It will allow first responders to operate more reliably in a wider area with more agencies during serious or major events.
"It is a digital system, it is much clearer. For those fire departments that cover the southern and southeastern part of the county they have some difficulty with communicating as well as EMS in the past, as well as law enforcement. I think they've seen a tremendous benefit by going with this system."
Firefighters said that the new radios will give them more flexibility in communicating with each other and other agencies.
"This is going to bring us all together not just locally, but regionally, state wide and nationally," said Joey Baxa of Buckhannon Fire Department.
"I think we're going to be able to talk to each other and protect our firefighters with better communication," said Bennie Nazelrod of Adrian Fire Department.
OEM officials said they're pleased to get this project started.
"I'm just real pleased that we could get them on the system. I think it's proven by the experimentation by the Buckhannon Fire Department of the radios, they've verified that they work. They work in a lot of different situations. And once they ran them through a bunch of tests and came back. They said these things are pretty nice," Farry said.