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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

County, city fire department radios to be replaced

Updated: Mar 9, 2023

MOUND CITY – On Tuesday, Feb. 21, Information Technology Director Chris Martin met with the Linn County Commissioners to explain that fire department radios need to be replaced, and he asked them how they would prefer to pay for it.

Martin explained that fire department radios that had been purchased in the past were not compatible now with the digital system the county was using. Martin said that Fire Chief Randy Hegwald wanted to move forward with digital radios for all handheld radios and fire truck radios.

Martin told the commissioners that this project would take a lot of engineering and time. He said it could be done over a three-year period using budgeted funds every year or he asked if American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money could be used. He said his high estimate of the cost to replace 80 to 100 radios was $80,000 to $100,000. The ARPA money would allow the project to be completed this year.

Commission Chair Danny McCullough asked Martin if this needed to be done anyway. Martin said it did but he was asking the commissioners how they wanted it done. He said this project was a pretty significant time investment.

Martin said that this would include all fire department and municipality radios. The city fire trucks are going to require a digital capable radio.

Commissioner Jim Johnson asked, “They (cities) don’t want to purchase their own?”

Martin said he did not say that. He did express concern that some cities might not have something like this budgeted or were not prepared for this purchase. He said that there was some software changes with repeaters and mounting the equipment on towers. He said he would hate to see that all done if the cities were not prepared for it.

McCullough asked if this could come out of the fire department’s special equipment fund.

County Clerk David Lamb said it could depending on what else the fire department had planned for the money.

Martin said he was just questioning whether the ARPA money could be used for the radios. He said he was not trying to increase any capacity that the county did not already have planned.

He said there might be some cost savings in doing it sooner rather than later because of inflation and product availability. He said he did not want to go through days and days of work and getting bids to find out commissioners were not interested.

Johnson brought up the study for the walking floor trailer and improvement at the solid waste transfer station.

Johnson said, “I would like to see the municipalities pay for their own when they have their fire budget. Maybe if it wasn’t budgeted this year we could help them until they could pay for it out of next year’s budget.

The commissioners told Martin to go ahead and look into it.

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