Tornadoes, flash floods, natural disasters, it takes more than just one city’s fire department to respond. That;s why Rogers Fire Chief Tom Jenkins says his department is looking at future options like the Arkansas Wireless Information Network, also known as AWIN.
“If there’s any place that needs to work regionally, we need to be regional in Northwest Arkansas,” said Jenkins. “The state radio system would allow us in an emergency if there was a serious quake along the new Madrid fault to send resources to Craighead County. That would allow us to use those radios we use everyday to be used on the other end of the state. When you build certain pieces of infrastructure you rarely do that from a regional perspective, but the airwaves don’t start and stop at the city limit.”
Not all Northwest Arkansas cities and towns are on the AWIN system just yet. Springdale chose not to get on board because of the cost.
“When we were looking at AWIN, we were looking at well over a million dollars,” said Springdale Fire Chief Mike Irwin.
Springdale Fire Chief Mike Irwin says his city is on its own radio system and they are still able to use it to communicate with other cities. It’s the system they just used over the weekend for the Hogeye marathon, which crossed city lines.
“Overall, I think the way it’s designed and built out I think we can do what we need to do with that and still communicate across the state,” said Chief Irwin.
No matter radio system each city depends on, first responders know it’s something they cannot do without.