Broome County to Upgrade Public Safety Radio System

Broome County to Upgrade Public Safety Radio System

Some Equipment Dates Back to 1970s; Project Completion Will Increase Public Safety & Improve Critical Communication Between First Responders in Incident Response

 

(TOWN OF UNION, NY) Broome County officials announced today that the county is upgrading its Public Safety Radio system. This project will benefit 55 different primary first responder agencies from police, fire and EMS throughout municipalities in Broome County.

 

County Executive Jason Garnar and Legislature Chairman Daniel J. Reynolds made the announcement today. They were joined by officials from the Broome County Office of Emergency Services, Sheriff David Harder, Binghamton Police Chief Joseph Zikuski, Conklin Fire Chief Bill Gorman, Endicott Police Chief Patrick Garey, Johnson City Police Chief Brent Dodge, Endicott Fire Chief Joseph Griswold, and many other first responders from agencies throughout the county.

 

The County Office of Emergency Services is the lead department on the project.

 

The current system consists of 12 different radio systems with portions dating back to 1970, covering 55 different primary agencies.

 

Major radio coverage gaps in the current system are a safety issue for first responders. Systems operate on three different “bands” meaning the ability for one unit to talk to another one for mutual aid is virtually impossible. For example, three different fire departments who respond to a fire in mutual aid may not be able to communicate with each other.

 

Michael Ponticiello, Director of the Office of Emergency Services stated, “This is a problem and we need to fix it now. Our fire departments cannot communicate with our police officers, our schools, our hospitals, our DPW crews. We need this upgraded system now so our first responders can effectively do their job and save lives.”

 

“This could be a matter of life and death. Our first responders desperately need the ability to communicate with each other and unfortunately, in some areas in Broome County, they currently cannot do that. This upgrade must be done for the safety of our families, our first responders and every resident of Broome County. It’s been put off for too long and we’ve made investments to keep the system going but now is the time,” said Jason Garnar, Broome County Executive.

“Ensuring public safety is the top priority for government and we must do everything we can to support our local volunteer and career firefighters, our police agencies and our emergency medical personnel who serve our community every day,” said County Legislature Chairman Dan J. Reynolds. “This system has been in dire need of overhaul for many years and waiting any longer to do the necessary upgrades only puts our first responders and the people in our community at more risk. Thank you to our State representatives, Senator Akshar and Assemblywoman Lupardo, for their strong support in moving this project and funding plan forward.”

The upgraded public radio system will meet the county’s needs for the next 20 years. Equipment will be provided to all Police, Fire, EMS, and DPW departments. The new system will allow all disciplines to communicate with each other. All users will be able to change to an emergency channel and speak directly with a 911 dispatcher.

 

“The new system will meet the needs of public safety agencies, DPW, all county government agencies (i.e. Security, Arena, Probation), and can incorporate schools and hospitals,” said Michael Ponticiello, Director of Emergency Services.

 

The county has already purchased, and/or licensed necessary radio spectrum and an engineering firm is confirming tower site locations. It is anticipated an additional eight (8) radio tower sites need to be built.

 

“Broome County has invested millions of dollars in infrastructure improvements over the last few years to keep our system working. This investment laid the foundation for our new upgraded system. By having a consolidated county system, it is saving millions of dollars to the taxpayers. If every system was individually upgraded, the total project cost would be nearly $30 million more,” said Ponticiello.

 

The cost of the new system is projected at just under $23 million. Broome County officials have actively explored every possible funding source for the project and are proposing increasing the 911 surcharge to fund the project.

 

Broome County is requesting that the monthly landline fee be raised from $0.30 to $1.39 and the monthly wireless fee from $0.35 to $1.62 for a period of 10 years.

 

To fund the project, a home rule request must be approved at the state level.

 

The Broome County Legislature will consider a resolution in February to approve the home rule request be sent to the New York State Legislature for authorization.

 

Three public forums will be held next week across Broome County.

 

The scheduled forums are as follows:

 

Tuesday 2/5 - West Windsor Fire Company, 9 Karla Drive, Windsor, NY 13865

Wednesday 2/6 – Chenango Fire Company, 86 Castle Creek Rd., Binghamton, NY 13901

Thursday 2/7 – Glen Aubrey Fire Company, 3800 NYS Route 26, Glen Aubrey, NY 13777

 

All forums are scheduled to begin at 5:30PM.

01/31/2019 - 3:14pm