The process of replacing 900 shoulder microphones for firefighters in Montgomery County, Md., is underway, according to public information officer Scott Graham of Montgomery County Fire and Rescue.

“The microphones didn't like two things – heat and water,” said Graham.

The department returned the two-way radios after firefighters complained that they didn’t work when wet. They had been in use for eight months. Motorola sent 900 more water-resistant speakers to the department, and until then, the firefighters used hand-held radios. Graham told Governing that the replacement of the units started Wednesday with the first incoming shipment of communications units. He expected the work to continue through the weekend.

Having the radios sit on the responders’ shoulders, rather than being carried, them allows for quicker communication during emergencies. The radio packages have a cost of about $8,000, Graham said.