Montgomery County continues work for universal radio system for emergency services

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7) Montgomery County emergency services is looking to get new radios throughout the county.

It's to make it easier for volunteer fire and rescue squads to communicate, like when calling for help on big calls.

The move all started with Riner's Volunteer Department, which has been working on new radios for two years. But after Monday's meeting, volunteers still aren't getting their radios.

While it started as just Riner, the County asked the Fire and Rescue Commission to finalize what radio system would be best. That was when discussion about Blacksburg, Elliston, and Shawsville came up.

Board of Supervisors Chair Christ Tuck explained, "They needed about 90 days to be able to come up with a plan to address the other four departments to make sure that their radios are fully acclimated with what other county departments are doing."

In fact, there was talks about waiting six months, but the County doesn't want to wait that long to fix this issue.

Supervisor Mary Biggs said in the meeting, "When you can't communicate, it costs people's lives."

So the County once again tabled a vote until the Commission can come up with a plan by their March 14 meeting.

But one Supervisor Todd King, who's also a Riner Volunteer Firefighter, asked the Board of Supervisors be ready to act at their meeting five days after the Commission's deadline.

He said, "I hope everybody will be ready, that's my main concern that everybody will not be ready, but I hope they are. But if somebody's not ready I would like the Board of Supervisors to move forward with the ones that are ready."

Chair Tuck, who represents the Board on the Commission said he believes everyone will be ready.

"We want to set it up so Riner can talk Christiansburg. But we also are going to want them to talk with Elliston and if you start getting multiple different systems, they may not be able to talk to each other."

He went onto say, "What this is going to be allowing is different departments to speak to one another, fire to talk to rescue and vice versa. But also fire from one department to be able to talk with another department."

But it won't stop with fire and rescue. The County Sheriff pointed out all emergency personnel can get on this system

Sheriff Hank Partin said in the meeting, "It's not just fire and rescue. That's the beauty of this system, we can all move to it."

A final vote is expected on this on March 19.

Along with expected new radios, Riner will soon get a new Fire House, as the Board voted Monday night to advance plans on the new Fire House on a piece of property just outside of Riner, which will share land with a new park.

Tuck explained about the plans fitting the County's Comprehensive Plan, "This property was just outside of the Village plan, and we're re-looking at that once again. So we're doing that next year and so this was just on the edge of it and so our Board felt like, 'Yes this fire department as well as Parks and Recreation was consistent with what we have our in Riner."

King said of having the new facility, "I hope it's going to help with recruit and retention. There's going to be a lot more things we can do there and a lot better facility for the community, they get to enjoy it too."

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