New Radio Transmitter Improves FF Communications in OK County

Nov. 4, 2023
Cleveland County officials said the $300,000 radio transmitter will remove large areas where fire and police crews cannot communicate.

Nov. 2—Cleveland County will install a new radio transmitter that will broadcast first responder signals throughout the southeastern part of the county.

The commissioners approved $300,000 for the equipment and installation, which will go up on an already-existing tower near the intersection of 120th Avenue SE and Cemetery Road.

"This has been needed for a long time. In Southeastern Cleveland County, there's a lot of areas out there that we cannot communicate with," said District 3 Commissioner Rusty Grissom. "The volunteer fire departments and the Sheriff's Office can't communicate."

He said the new tower will give radio coverage to 98% of the county.

"It's a lot cheaper as we are using an existing tower. It saved us a lot of money," he said.

The money will be drawn from the county's American Rescue Plan Act store.

Larry Heikkila, Norman mayor, praised the county's decision to invest in first responder services.

"This will provide the county with the communications it needs in both emergencies and routine law enforcement," Heikkila said. "I applaud the commissioners and sheriff for their commitment to public safety."

Phil Scott, Noble fire chief, said the move will improve communications to Noble, Slaughterville, Cedar County and Lexington first responder departments.

He said it has been difficult for different municipalities to communicate with each other, which puts the lives of residents in danger.

"We cover that part of the county on the EMS side, and we are sending ambulances out there often," he said.

"There are a lot of areas where we have had no communication to our dispatch center. When we need additional information, it is important to have clear communication so we can let responders know what's going on at a residence because of a medical call," he said.

Scott said the new transmitter will serve between 14,000 and 15,000 people.

"Most of the homes out there don't have addresses, and so it makes it difficult sometimes for us to offer guidance as we describe the property," Scott said.

He said the new tower will promote better cooperation between emergencies when disasters affect multiple areas. Currently, the Southeastern part of the county uses towers in Pottawatomie and McClain counties.

"We don't have any towers right here close to us," Scott said.

Grissom said the transmitter will be installed in January or February of 2024.

"This will be a game changer," Scott said. "It's something that we really need. Like I said, right now the departments don't communicate with each other."

Grissom said southeastern Cleveland County has a lot of dead spots, which poses challenges for first responders.

"It'll be better for our volunteer fire departments and sheriff's office," Grissom said. "It will help out the whole county and make it make it safer, and will allow first responders to better do their jobs."

Brian King covers education and politics for The Transcript. Reach him at [email protected].


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