LATEST TECHNOLOGY: Stawell Fire Brigade group offi cer Kevin Erwin, CFA radio replacement project director Doug Booth and former Stawell Fire Brigade captain Mick Nunweek test out the brigade’s new digital hand-held radios on Thursday. Picture: SAMANTHA CAMARRISTAWELL Fire Brigade celebrated the installation of seven new state-of-the art emergency radios with a barbecue lunch on Thursday.

CFA communications officer Darren Grevis-James said Stawell received four digital in-vehicle or mobile radios, along with three digital portable hand-held radios.

They are part of the CFA’s $57-million radio replacement project. It has taken four years to switch from analogue to digital emergency radios.

More than 5000 portable radios and 4000 mobile radios have been distributed to 1200 fire brigades across Victoria.

Mr Grevis-James said about 100 people attended the lunch, including Tait Radio Asia Pacific managing director Brett Smythe.

Tait Radio manufactured the radios and is developing 1500 transportable radios for CFA private vehicles, which are due to be released in September.

Mr Grevis-James said Black Saturday was one of the drivers behind the radio replacement program.

“We did need to update our radios anyway because they have been in service for many years, but internal CFA reviews and the recommendations of the Black Saturday Bushfire Royal Commission have also been a driving force,” he said.

Project director Doug Booth said for the first time, many rural brigades would have hand-held portable radios for critical communications, in addition to their vehicle-mounted mobile radios.

“The Tait P25 radios have several features previously not available on older radios,” Mr Booth said.

“They are designed to filter out background noise from helicopters, trucks, sirens, hoses and machinery and the new digital channels will provide clearer voice and low speed data access in the same device.”

Mr Booth said the radios also had improved safety features including a distress button and GPS tracking.

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