POLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – Western Reserve Joint Fire District is getting a grant to upgrade their radios — more than $1.6 million, replacing their old system. It will allow for better communication between different fire departments.

The Western Reserve Joint Fire District services both Poland Township and Poland Village.

Their radio system is outdated and slows down vital emergency services throughout all of Mahoning County.

This grant money will change all that.

“There are multiple radio systems within Mahoning County,” said Chief David “Chip” Comstock of Western Reserve Joint Fire District.

Those different radios don’t talk to each other. Instead, firefighters have to go through dispatch to make the call for help.

“We are now not able to communicate with our own police department or the neighboring fire departments,” Comstock said. “The delay depending on the nature of the call can be critical.”

Recently, a fire officer was attacked at a scene.

“The assault occurred in Poland, but the original call came in as Struthers as then it went through Boardman Police. There were way too many delays,” Comstock said.

Mahoning County doesn’t operate on a consolidated dispatch system, so if you call 911 and your phone doesn’t automatically route you to the right location, you could be transferred multiple times before speaking with the right agency.

“The more resources that are needed, the longer it takes to communicate critical information to your neighbors or the other agencies coming to that scene,” Comstock said.

And in an emergency, every second is precious.

“We need to work on a system that is going to deliver the best services we can for our residents,” Comstock said.

Those new radios will allow almost every fire department in the county to speak directly with one another from an emergency scene.

Comstock says he and other area fire chiefs have been asking for a consolidated dispatch for the better part of a decade without success, but these new radios are a step toward having more efficient emergency services in the county.