GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. -- Public safety could be at risk, if Clay County doesn't get the radio communications upgrade they need.
For several years, emergency officials have been asking the county commission for funding to help pay for the upgrade, and now their deadline is about to expire.
The manufacturer sent its users a letter back in 2007, warning that they will discontinue its service and wont be supplying parts, as of December of this year. They are using an upgraded system, and are encouraging users to get rid of the old system which will soon be obsolete.
It's being deemed a crisis, "one broken part away from having no emergency radios." That's how Sheriff Rick Beseler referred to their emergency radio system,in a letter to the Clay County manager. In four months, police and fire can no longer turn to the manufacturer for support.
"When a firefighter goes into that burning building, he or she needs that essential communications with the supervisor outside, and then to the responding units coming in support of it as well as the communications center," said Clay County Fire Chief and Emergency Manager Lorin Mock.
Chief Mock tells Action News that becomes a challenge with a 20-year-old system. We saw the need for ourselves while inside the dispatch center. An emergency call came in, but was inaudible because of bad reception.
According to the sheriff's office, if a storm knocks out the towers on top of the building, they can't be replaced. They tell us an overhaul is a priority, one that could cost between $15 and $19 million.
"We'd be talking about additional tower sites because when you go to data systems and a digital transmission format, the distance it can travel is not as long than an analog system would be," said Chief Mock.
The Clay County Commission has said they have about $20 million available for capitol improvement projects, but haven't decided where that money will go.
"The question is how do you do it effectively, how do you do it within the budgetary means necessary and still be able to do the other projects they want to look at," said Chief Mock.
The other project the county commission is considering, is the Big League Dreams' mega ballpark, which is also projected to cost about $20 million. No word yet on whether the commission can fit both project into their budget, or not.