LEICESTER, Mass. — The Leicester Fire and Highway departments have their new radios up and fully operational, with the updated system aiding their ability to effectively communicate during emergencies.
"It enhances the communication of all the fire department members, which will enhance safety on the fire-ground and help the efficiency when all the units respond to calls and hear both side of all conversations," said Leicester Fire Chief Bob Wilson.
Supported by residents at Town Meeting, the updated system includes repeaters that allow the members of the departments to talk directly to each other from anywhere in town.
Previously, members had to have their messages relayed, making swift communication that much harder during an emergency.
Wilson said that, in the past, the old system created difficulties during a fire that occurred in the Rochdale area covered by Company 3.
"The trucks from Station 2 were signed on the air while we were transmitting down at the scene back to the police station," said Wilson. This resulted in Company 3's signal getting wiped out, "and communications back and forth were being missed," explained the chief. "Nobody could hear the other side of the conversation."
Moving from the old simplex system to the updated duplex system, the new radios allow everybody signed on to the frequency to hear the conversation.
"Now the three fire stations will be able to hear the whole conversation on the route to a scene, so everybody will know all the officers, who's signed on, what's available and what's coming in — because everybody will be able to hear the same message," said Wilson.
The new radios went live Monday at midnight, and residents who have scanners will have to reprogram them to continue to listen to the communications of Leicester's departments.
The new frequency for the highway department is 150.995, and 158.775 for the fire department.
The Leicester Police Department's radios will soon be updated to the new system.