Lewistown police and fire departments hope to get new radios

Lewistown Fire Chief Joe Ward
Posted at 6:51 PM, Apr 06, 2022

LEWISTOWN — The Lewistown fire and police departments are having trouble with their radios.

When Lewistown firefighters go out on a call, they can't be sure they'll be able to use their radios to communicate.

"It's a huge concern,” said Lewistown Fire Chief Joe Ward.

He explained, "My guys have expressed concerns to me many times. They'll go to a call and the radios will just flat cut out and shut off. On the police side, talking with Police Chief Justin Jennes they've had several incidents where their guys are out on a call and for some reason their radios shut down. Something happens and they can't tell dispatch 'Hey, we need help' or whatever.”

The departments have been getting by by sending radios in to be repaired when they stop working, but that doesn't always solve the problem.

"If it's a simple fix, $100 or something like that, yeah, we'll fix it. But if it's more than that, more than what the radio's worth and we’re going to have to buy a new radio, which we can't buy the same radios (because they’re not made anymore), we don't want a bunch of different brands and different types of radios,” Ward said.

The portable hand-held radios aren't the only issue. The mobile radios inside the vehicles also sometimes stop working.

Replacement of the radios is anticipated to cost around $500,000.

The departments are working with the state to figure out what radio system or systems will best address the agency's needs and hope to have bids for replacement radios ready to present to City Council for consideration in May or June.