Documents detail Houston Fire Department's radio system problems

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- New documents detail critical problems with the Houston Fire Department's communications system.

Eyewitness News obtained all documented reports of handheld radio problems. In less than two weeks, there have been a couple dozen and the details are troubling.

"Our firefighters are at risk and our citizens are at risk," said Michael Kubosh, Houston City Council Member and a member of the Public Safety Committee.

We first told you about the issues almost two weeks ago.

According to one report from January 12, it was a "huge safety issue" because 3 radios could not hear command "through an entire working fire."

Another firefighter on that same scene reported he heard nothing over his radio from command too even when "standing face to face."

A firefighter responding to a nightclub fire on January 17th noted one unit heard his radio key up but his "words were not transmitting," and on the way to a fire that same day, two fire trucks heard nothing about the smoke and offensive attack they were about to face until they were on scene.

The radio issues are the latest problems with the HFD's $138 million communications system installed in 2013. Despite no current maintenance contract-Motorola Solutions-the vendor- says it's working to correct.

"It's got to work. We can't just think it's going to work. It's got to be able to work," added Kubosh.

According to the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association, a district-by-district upgrade is underway. It's expected to take 20 days. Meanwhile, firefighters are testing their handheld radios multiple times a day.
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