Feedback: County Eyes $$$ Overhaul Of Emergency Communications

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Jefferson County government is contemplating an expensive overhaul of the radio equipment firefighters and rescue squads use.

The existing radio system is more than 40 yers old, and showing its age.

"We're still basically one level above two tin cans and a string, just like we were back in the fifties, and we need to get into the 21st century." said Bob Simpson from the county's Incident Management Team and a long time leader in emergency management in Jefferson County.

Getting into the 21st century means new digital radios, and the entire network to support them, including as many as 15 towers.

It's pricey.

"$15 million on the low side, to say $20 million on more of the high side," said Bob Hagemann, Jefferson County Administrator.

Plus, this is technology we're talking about, where one upgrade is just the beginning.

"Not only are we looking at initial start up costs, both in terms of capital and software, we're looking down the road that there will be upgrades occuring every so often, and they're probably going to be pricey." Hagemann said.

Expensive price tag or not, officials say a new radio system is worth every penny to clear up constant, annoying and dangerous problems for responders.

"Somebody in one part of the county talks, somebody in the other part of the county is talking and dispatch doesn't hear them. That's a very critical thing,"  said Simpson.

A consultant that hopes to do business with the county, Blue Wing Services, based in St. Paul, Minnesota, is expected to deliver a report on the upgrade this fall.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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