Commissioners Approve $338K Radio Purchase

SNOW HILL – County officials agreed to take advantage of a sale to purchase new emergency services radios.

At the request of Worcester County Emergency Services staff, the Worcester County Commissioners last week voted unanimously to move forward with spending $338,914 to purchase additional radios. The purchase will meet the needs of the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office and will supply local fire companies with new radios.

“I do think it’s an opportunity to save some money,” Commissioner Jim Bunting said.

Director of Emergency Services Billy Birch told the commissioners L3Harris was offering discounted pricing on the portable radios the county used. He said the radios, which were typically more than $7,500 each, were on sale for $2,700 each. He said the county needed 41 portable radios for the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office. Because the pricing was discounted, Birch said he’d also reviewed radios that were needed by the county’s fire companies. If the county were to supply the fire and EMS crews with radios as well, that would be another 58 portable radios and 17 mobile radios. Birch noted that would cost $338,914.

Assistant Director of Emergency Services James Hamilton told the commissioners purchasing new radios would allow the oldest radios to be cycled out, as the county typically gave the newest radios to public safety personnel and gave the radios they’d been using to public works. The purchase of radios now would mean that some of the seriously old ones currently used by public works could be replaced with the seven-year-old ones in use now.

“We pass them down,” he said.

Hamilton said pricing like what was currently proposed had never been seen on radios.

“We felt it our obligation to bring forward that much of a savings to you,” he said.

Commissioner Eric Fiori suggested the cost seemed too good to be true and asked if Hamilton knew what had prompted the discount.

“I have not been able to get an official answer,” Hamilton said. “What I would say is a rumor I have heard is they were anticipating an extremely large order that did not materialize. They may be sitting on excess inventory.”

Birch added that the new radios were more user friendly and had the potential for additional features the county’s current radios didn’t have.

The commissioners voted unanimously to approve purchasing the radios. Staff said casino revenues would likely be used to fund the purchase.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.