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Local fire departments adopt major upgrade in communication system

Saint Joseph County fire and police departments are in the process of upgrading their radio system with local residents in mind. Firefighters say this new system will provide reliable communication to all Hoosier first responders and public safety professionals for use during routine, emergency, and task force situations.

It’s the APXT Series and firefighters say their goal is to step it up when it comes to community safety by minimizing those technological barriers when responding to life or death situations.

Creators of the radio technology series at Motorola say they considered firefighters to be an extension of their design team and were involved from start to finish. On the other hand, teams with Motorola took part in training scenarios in smoke-filled rooms to see first-hand the challenges firefighters face with radio communication.

Designed for louder, clearer audio, some physical characteristics include large knobs and easy to see buttons which were created to make use of the radio easier with large gloves on, often used by firefighters on a call. But the firefighters will no longer have to do the talking! A built in ‘intelligent assistant’ will voice what is happening on scene once firefighters notify dispatch, so there’s no confusion or misunderstanding. Chief of Training with Penn Township Fire, Brian Kazmierzak, is leading the training and says the radios they’ve always used in the past were actually police radios that were just adapted to the fire service but were not water resistant and were very susceptible to heat damage.

“There’s numerous different types of radios that are in the system now, there’s the MDT’s that are in the system now, and this system operates different than what we’ve ever used before in the fire service in this area. There’s a lot of different things that we’re going to experience on the fire ground that we haven’t necessarily seen before,” said Kazmierzak.

Kazmierzak says another feature actually allows firefighters to now communicate easily with police agencies during major incidents – such as an active shooter situation.

“With the new system we know that there’s going to be multiple agencies working together so if you’re working a major incident on the bypass and you need to talk to the county police or you need to talk to the city police, you can use the county-wide channel, so it really allows for that interoperability like an active shooter event or major accident,” said Kazmierzak.

While most of the fire departments in St. Joseph County are currently learning the new system, it is set to go live at the end of June.

For a first-hand look at how this new radio system sounds as it is currently being used throughout Indianapolis and all of Marion County, click here for the live feed.

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