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MailTribune.com
  • Medford to spend $260,000 for portable radios

    The 87 Motorola handsets will be issued to the city Fire Department
  • The Medford City Council voted Thursday to spend almost $260,000 to upgrade communication gear used by the Fire Department.
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  • The Medford City Council voted Thursday to spend almost $260,000 to upgrade communication gear used by the Fire Department.
    The new portable Motorola radios will replace equipment that is nine years old and is no longer sold by Motorola.
    Firefighters have two different radio models, and the purchase of the new equipment will improve communication and provide consistency with other emergency service providers in the area.
    A total of 87 radios and auxiliary equipment will be purchased.
    "These are made to survive high-heat environments," Deputy Fire Chief Justin Bates said. "These radios are primarily portable radios carried around in fires and on other emergency calls."
    Bates said firefighters receive extensive training for all the equipment they use, so it's important that they use the same model of communication device.
    "They train to operate them in the dark or in a smoky environment," Bates said. "When they turn a knob two times, they need to know what channel they are on."
    The new radios have large knobs that can be turned easily with the heavy gloves firefighters use.
    Some of the features in the new radios are similar to older versions, such as internal electronics that don't generate sparks.
    On each fire engine, four radios are installed so that the entire crew has the ability to communicate. Sometimes off-duty firefighters are called in, and they need to have all their equipment ready to go.
    "When someone hops on a fire engine, there's a radio waiting for them," Bates said.
    The new equipment has noise cancellation technology that helps block out chainsaws and other background noise.
    In addition, the radios are equipped with Bluetooth ear pieces that allow firefighters to understand what is being said at a noisy fire scene.
    Bates said the older radio units will likely be sold to local fire agencies that still use them.
    Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.
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