Communication problems in Lancaster County

Communication problems in Lancaster

LANCASTER, SC (WBTV) - Lancaster County emergency crews say they are having some serious radio problems. Firefighters say the radio system is outdated and doesn't meet federal guidelines.

"Sometimes you might be able see the person or the vehicle you are trying to talk to," Chief Greg Nicholson said. "And not get out and they can't hear you."

Nicholson claims this happens almost daily.

"My first responsibility is safety for the citizens of this district," Nicholson said. "And especially my firefighters, not being able to communicate with them is very frustrating and difficult at times."

The chief also believes the bad communication is also unsafe.

"It just slows down our responses," Assistant Chief Mark Carnes said. "It's dangerous for us because if we call a Mayday - if it doesn't transmit and we are in a house calling Mayday or in a building, our lives are already on the line and if nobody hears us - only worse things can happen."

The cost of a new radio system would be about $8 million. Voters will decide November 4th whether to keep the existing one cent sales tax established years ago to rebuild the county courthouse that caught fire. Now that the courthouse is complete, politicians want to continue the sales tax to pay for new radios.

"If we need the service," Voter Gary Woodward said. "And they can do it with the tax we are currently paying, it sounds reasonable to keep the tax."

If approved, money from the sales tax would also go toward roads, library, and the sheriff's office.

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