WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Communication takes the lead when it comes to responding to an emergency, but for the Wichita Fire Department, the technology is falling behind.
Wichita Fire Chief Tammy Snow said the alerting systems to notify crews about an emergency are outdated. The other challenge is the equipment is different between the stations.
This means there’s a need to update the system and even add signal boosters for the radios.
The Wichita City Council approved nearly $3 million, using funding from the American Rescue Plan.
Battalion Chief Jose Ocadiz said he’s thankful for the additional funding, as it will improve call response times, emergency operations, and having to prevent repeating messages over the radio system.
“Part of the city council’s approval is being able to communicate with our firefighters, but not just with firefighters, but other agencies from federal state and local agencies and also being able to communicate inside of buildings and with our 911 Communication Center also,” said Ocadiz.
The council also approved new equipment, including one truck, two engines, a tractor, trailer, and two wildland units.
With technology constantly changing, the fire chief said this equipment is overdue to be replaced.
The equipment is 15 to 20 years old. The Wichita City Council approved the $4.75 million price tag.
This means Station 22 will get the chance to replace its now dated 2005 fire truck with a brand new one.
Ocadiz said the new model has hoses and controls more accessible for firefighters and newer technology in the truck to help with communication.
“Vehicle accidents, gas leaks, building fires, you know, so this is always very beneficial for us to be able to keep our trucks in a ready state and also being able to utilize our new technology and safety features that come with new fire trucks,” said Ocadiz.
Once the truck is replaced, it goes into a reserve bay. That way, if one needs fixing, they have the older ones as a backup.
The council also approved another $500,000 to update hoses, thermal imaging cameras, and other rescue tools.