Orleans awarded $448,993 in state grant for emergency response system

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 March 2017 at 12:14 pm

Orleans County has been awarded a $448,993 state grant as part of $45 million in funding announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo today to upgrade emergency communications systems around the state.

“In an emergency, every second counts,” Cuomo said in a news release. “This critical funding will improve the quality and efficiency of emergency response capabilities across New York, while supporting the brave first responders who put their lives on the line every day to protect their neighbors and their community.”

Orleans County has a Radio Advisory Committee with representatives from highway departments, fire departments, police and law enforcement and the county’s Emergency Management Office. That group will consider options for how to use the funding, said Dale Banker, the EMO coordinator.

The county upgraded its 911 radio system in 2014 for about $7 million. That system, now three years old, already is a phase behind neighboring Genesee and Monroe counties, Banker said.

An upgrade of the Harris system in Orleans would allow the county’s system to be interoperable with Genesee and Monroe’s systems.

The county might also consider a long-term maintenance agreement with Harris as part of the grant.

The committee will also look at adding a dispatch station at the Public Safety Building. There are currently three stations and a fourth could be added, Banker said. There is also one backup station at the Emergency Management Office on West Countyhouse Road and an additional backup could be sought with the grant funds.

The state is expected to have a second round of grants for communications system improvements. The county committee has a wish list and will weigh how to best spend the money, Banker said today.

“It will definitely enhance our communications system,” he said about the funding.

The State Interoperable Communications Grant, which is administered by the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, has awarded more than $275 million in five rounds to 57 counties and New York City.

Orleans County in recent years has received about $133,000 annually with the grant program.

“It is vital to emergency response to continually upgrade and enhance communications systems including 911 technologies,” said John P. Melville said, commissioner of State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. “This grant funding allows counties and New York City to continue to make improvements to their emergency communications systems to help protect New Yorkers.”

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