Plans considered for upgrades to public safety radios

Published 11:48 am Wednesday, August 28, 2019

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By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Dan Wright of Chilton County 911 recently presented information to the Clanton City Council about replacing the devices emergency services uses to communicate.

Wright said he simply wanted to present the information, so the Council could consider the options.

“Several stakeholders in the county are working on a public safety radio system,” Wright said.

The cellphones with push to talk technology currently being used have lapses in service in certain areas of the county.

Wright said this has created issues for law enforcement trying to communicate with dispatch.

“We have been working on a countywide radio system that is public safety grade for years,” Wright said. “We have arrived at a stakeholder cost arrangement, very similar to how we do the dispatch fees through 911.”

Under this model, each local government in Chilton County pays a percentage based on call volume.

“There are two components of the system — one is infrastructure, one is maintenance,” Wright said. “These radio systems now are essentially computer systems. They are controlled with computers, and they are digital.”

Chilton County Schools has mentioned being interested in joining with the other stakeholders on the project in order to have their bus drivers on the system.

“This would out a public safety channel in every school bus and in every school in the county,” Wright said.

For Clanton, the system would include the police and fire department with the possibility of adding the street department.

“Hopefully, we get enough support from stakeholders and everyone wants to participate, so we will finally have a public safety radio system for all of the responders in the county,” Wright said.

The Clanton City Council’s portion would be $28,000 per year to pay off the infrastructure and an additional $8,400 a year for maintenance for the first 10 years. These amounts do not include the cost of the radios. These would likely be paid for through each department’s budget.

“The service fees that we are paying for the AT&T phone service (which is currently being used instead of radios) just about pays for this,” Wright said.

The infrastructure was compared to how a ham radio works.

In order to get these prices, Motorola, the service provider for the radios, needs a contract by the end of September, Clanton Fire Chief David Driver said.

The proposal is expected to be considered at a future Clanton City Council meeting.