The Finance Committee unanimously passed a motion Thursday to recommend a proposed $360,000 project aimed at updating the radio systems used by local emergency responders and a handful of town departments.
Appearing before the board at their meeting Thursday night was Police Chief Robert Picariello, Police Lt. Matthew Freeman and Fire Chief Jason Gilliland, each of whom said the upgrade would dramatically improve interdepartmental communication in the event of an emergency.
Freeman was asked to explain the need for the switch and give a quick run-down of the work that has already done by town officials to get the project funding request together.
"The FCC has decided that there aren't enough frequencies available to public safety and public service entities around the country. In an effort to free-up more frequency space, they passed a mandate which states that everything that is currently using wide-band frequencies on the VHF spectrum has to be compressed down by what is called narrowbanding," Freeman said.
"So, for the last year-and-a-half the police department, the fire department and all of our public works employees have been working together to try to find out if the town of Marblehead, for the first time, could have one quality, high-pitch, 21st century radio system," Freeman said.
The problem with the way the town's radio system currently operates, Freeman said, is that if a member of the police or fire department wants to alert a Municipal Light Department employee of a downed wire during a storm, they have to call police dispatch and have dispatch relay the message.
"The town has VHF frequencies and UHF frequencies, which means the fire department is unable to speak directly to electric light employees and other town departments," Freeman said. "Everything is forced to revolve around a hub at our 911 dispatch center and on a quiet day that hub is OK and that works just fine. But when it's busy, when we have a large storm or a town-wide event, the volume of calls dispatch handles is just phenomenal."
The idea, Freeman said, is to get all of the necessary equipment to ensure that all of Marblehead's public safety personnel will be transmitting on UHF frequencies.
"Then, with one flip of the channel, an electric light worker can talk directly to police or someone from water and sewer can contact the fire department...I know a lot of people don't think of the highway trucks, the water and sewer department and the school department as public safety, but they really are," Freeman said.
Radio Project Cost Allocation:
|Equipment||Town Cost||Electric Light||Water & Sewer||School Dept.|
|Tait Repeater TB9100||$13,036.50||$13,036.50||13,036.50|
|Dispatch Console Gateway||$4,693.50||$4,693.50||$4,693.50|
|5 Channel Combiner||$29,531.25||$5,906.33||$5,906.33||$5,906.33|
|Polyphaser Lighting Arrestor||$58.90||$58.90||$58.90|
|Rack Mount Shelf||$103.79||$103.79||$103.79|
|Battery Backup Cables||$158.40||$158.40||$158.40|
|AC Surge Supperssor||$161.25||$161.25||$161.25|
|175 Ah SLA Battery||$1,695.75||$1,695.75||$1,695.75|
|DC/AC Site Power Converter||$462.00||$462.00||$462.00|
|RF Jumpher Superflex||$91.82||$91.82||$91.82|
|Radio System Staging, Setup Etc.||$9,315.00||$1,035.00||$1,035.00||$1,035.00|
Radios and Accessories:
|Park & Rec||$17,413.30|
|Water & Sewer||$27,211|
Police Radio Infrastructure: $76,610.41
3-Position Radio Dispatch Console System: $52,417.46
Grand Total Per Entry:
Electric Light Dept.: $46,240.67
Water & Sewer: $56,940.39
School Dept.: $12,515.83
Total Project Cost: $364,435.16