Radio communication in the San Diego Sheriff’s Department was 71 percent better this year than during the Cedar Fire four years ago, said Chris Hinshaw, wireless services and regional communications systems manager at the department.

Hinshaw said his department tracked the number and duration of “busy” signals recorded by the communications system. He said he’s also received anecdotal evidence from county firefighters that communications were much improved during this year’s fires. He said he’s had at least three e-mails from fire chiefs and other firefighters praising the department.

A press release put out by the Sheriff’s Department this morning points out that four of the sheriff’s radio towers were burned over during this year’s wildfires. Despite that, however, the radio systems continued working, the press release states, and at one point 19 of the radio towers were working on generator power.

The Sheriff’s Department also had plenty of batteries, Hinshaw said. As I pointed out in my story on wildfire preparedness a couple of months before this year’s firestorms, a lack of batteries was a huge problem for the city of San Diego’s firefighters during the Cedar Fire.

Here’s a little extra info from the press release on the sheriff’s communication system:

The $50 million dollar San Diego-Imperial County Regional Communications System (RCS) provides services to 264 public safety and public service agencies. There are over 21,000 users in a two county service area covering over 9000 square miles including 185 miles of international border.


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