A News13 Investigation tested the portable radios that emergency responders use in Marion County, and found the radios don’t work in some areas.
“Of course, if they holler ‘May Day,’ and we couldn’t hear them, yes it’d be an issue,” Mullins Fire Chief Robert Stetson told News13 in July, when News13 first exposed the problem.
The county blames the poor reception on a downed radio tower, knocked out by a storm 2012.
“There’s always risk with communications because you’re never going to have a perfect solution, says Marion County Administrator Tim Harper.
At the time, Harper said a tower should be constructed by the end of the year. But now, that doesn’t appear likely.
“We had one bid come in that was twice the estimated budget price,” Harper told News13 via email on Tuesday. “Council elected to rebid the project and the bid will be awarded at the December meeting.
“I know it’s something we needed for a while,” says David Hudspeth, Mullins City Manager.
First responders in Mullins and other parts of the county that have coverage zones in spotty areas have been waiting more than two years for the new tower to restore communication.
“Certainly it would be improved with the tower,” Hudspeth says.
Until a new tower is built, it appears the safety of those trying to protect our safety may remain in jeopardy.
“We are always concerned about the safety of our emergency responders,” Hudspeth says.