LOUISBURG — While giving a recent tour of the Louisburg fire station, Fire Chief Gerald Rittinghouse provided county commissioners with an update on radio communications.
After hearing distressing news about the county’s VHF radio system that has caused heartburn for many first responders, dispatchers and other county officials, the County Commission declared a state of emergency at its 1 p.m. meeting Wednesday, Aug. 14, in order to seek immediate state assistance.
The emergency declaration said, in part, that under certain conditions the “county-wide VHF radio system has experienced a complete failure. The failure applies to the City of Louisburg and the rural areas of Miami County which have resulted in no VHF communications.”
Louisburg first responders have resorted to carrying mobile 800 MHz radios but coverage has been inconsistent because the only 800 MHz radio tower in the county is west of Paola.
Two hours after the County Commission declared the emergency, a state-owned mobile communications tower called COW (Communication on Wheels) was being hoisted at 3 p.m. in the parking lot behind the Louisburg EMS/Fire Station.
Some county commissioners stood at an open doorway and peered through a driving rain at the mobile tower during their Aug. 21 tour of the station.
Rittinghouse told commissioners the state is continuing to work with the community to establish a temporary antenna as an interim solution.
Statewide Interoperability Coordinator Jason Bryant with the office of emergency communications supervised the placement of the tower.
He said the COW would remain on site until officials could figure out another location where an 800 MHz antenna could be placed, possibly on the water tower a short distance away.
Rittinghouse told com- missioners Aug. 21 the mobile tower has improved communications in Louis- burg, including inside some buildings where radios were inoperable in the past.
“We have coverage where we’ve never had it before,” he said.