Lufkin Fire Department approved to jump on Sheriff Department's digital radio system

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - It's pretty scary, but for some time, Lufkin Fire Department officials have been having a hard time communicating with Emergency Medical Services while out in the field.

It's all because of areas they call "dead spots," where analog radio waves are unable to pick up the feeds. But a new agreement is about to bring these areas back to life.

"Our coverage is very limited and we are trying to cover the areas out there so when we're on these med calls we can communicate back with dispatch," Ted Lovett, the Lufkin Fire Chief, said.

Earlier this morning, the Angelina County Commissioner's Court approved a new agreement between the fire department and the Angelina County Sheriff's Department to use the sheriff's digital radio system for emergency calls.

"That's just connecting to the Sheriff Department's radio system and that goes also to Zavalla and then they are getting permission there to where they can put an antenna there," Greg Sanches, the Angelina County Sheriff, said.

"We're going to put microwaves and routers out there. We just need their buildings and their vlands and their infrastructure that is already there and that saves us money so we don't have to recreate that," Lovett said.

The new lines will be installed in Zavalla and Huntington where radio reception has been poor because of the train and the limited amount of towers.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Scott Cooper was the first to approve the new agreement during the meeting.

"I'm sure you've driven a long and all of a sudden your cell phone's gone out and radios have better communication, but when you don't have a cell phone or radio…"

That's when things go poorly, Cooper says.

Lovett says the new digital agreement will cover 98 percent of the city and the county making med calls much easier.

"We just need to tie into some of their connections and use some of their infrastructure to make that happen," Lovett said.

The dispatch lines will not cross. But all the new agreement promises is that the fire department can use the radio system that has worked well for the sheriff's department. The fire department will pay for the entire installment and the city will monitor the installment, but will not add any funds.

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