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County will pursue $1.9 million grant for emergency radio system

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 March 2015 at 12:00 am

Project would make Orleans system interoperable with neighboring counties

Photo by Tom Rivers – Dale Banker, Orleans County emergency management coordinator, talks on his radio during a fire on Monday at a garage on Fancher Road in Clarendon.

ALBION – Orleans County has completed a $7.1 million upgrade to its emergency radio system, it’s first big overhaul in about two decades.

The county wants to continue to improve the system and will seek a $1.9 million state grant to make the system interoperable with emergency communication systems in Monroe, Niagara and Genesee counties.

The funding would also add vehicle repeaters for deputy patrol cars, giving them a stronger radio signal. In addition, the project would include bidirectional antennas and equipment for stronger signals inside school buildings at the five local districts as well as the BOCES site in Shelby.

“This would definitely enhance public safety,” Dale Banker, the county’s emergency management director, told county legislators during a conference about the grant on Wednesday.

The state has $50 million available through the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. Counties are welcome to submit applications by April 15.

The four counties – Orleans, Genesee, Monroe and Niagara – could coordinate their applications, and that effort would increase their chances for funding from the state, said Dan Sullivan, a salesman with Harris RF Communications.

The state has capped the grants to counties at $3.5 million. Orleans will seek $1.9 million.

The county’s new system provides at least 95 percent coverage in the county. The additional upgrades could take that to 99 percent.

“It’s an enhancement of an already state-of-the-art system,” Sullivan said.