Starke County Commissioners to Look for Different Radio Communications Vendor

With the lack of resolution to the ongoing radio communications with the Starke County’s firefighters, the Starke County Commissioners will be looking for a different radio vendor.

IT Director Richard Franks presented an invoice from current vendor J&K Communications for work done on radios and the radio tower at North Judson-Wayne Township Fire Department and Railroad Township.   Eric Wappel, who is the captain at the North Judson-Wayne Township Fire Department, asked the commissioners to not pay that invoice as nothing has been repaired.  He said firefighters can’t receive pager notifications and can’t talk to each other with their radios without having to be inside the fire truck. 

He also gave other commentary.

“On Sept. 12, a man had a heart attack and it was witnessed.  He ended up passing away.  We had a CPR-certified firefighter less than one mile away who didn’t know about this incident because his pager didn’t break.  Our squad, which made scene before the ambulance, could have had a paramedic on it to provide advanced care on arrival, but his pager also didn’t break.  Up to this day almost every call I have someone tell me that their pager didn’t break.  Our VH radio system has always had some issues, but since springtime it’s been broken.  Along with pagers not alerting us to calls, or breaking as it’s commonly called, our handheld radios will not work.  We’ve asked multiple times and we’ve had all departments in here before tell you that J&K is not the answer.  They’ve told us probably10 times that they’ve fixed our system.  As of a few days ago, it still doesn’t work,” stated Wappel. 

He also discussed an issue with frequency changes. 

Wappel agreed to produce a list of possible vendors for the commissioners to consider other than J&K Communications.  Commissioner Kathy Norem agreed that it’s critical that the county’s emergency services have the necessary equipment and capabilities for communications. 

Interviews will be set up with the commissioners and fire personnel from each department to get a qualified vendor.  Meetings will be set up once the vendors are contacted and interest is confirmed. 

The invoice was not approved or discussed beyond that point.