Genesee County will receive more than $5.4 million in grant funding from the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Office of Interoperable Communications to upgrade the County’s 800 MHz Public Safety Radio System.
Legislature Chair Mary Pat Hancock was notified of the grant award in a letter dated Feb. 4, 2013, from the New York State Division of Homeland Security.
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The county Ways & Means Committee recommended at its meeting Wednesday establishment of a $6.6 million capital project for the radio system upgrade. The Legislature is expected to vote on it at its Feb. 27 meeting.
Sheriff Gary T. Maha said at Ways & Means that a new radio system will allow all first responders to be on the same digital frequency and communicate with each other.
He cited the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York, during which different organizations such as police, fire and emergency services could not communicate with each other because their radio systems were of different frequencies.
“Same thing is true today,” Maha said.
The lack of centralized communications was a problem when Hurricane Sandy hit eastern and central New York last year. The superstorm knocked out power to cell phone towers; first responders were unable to communicate.
The grant funds will pay for an upgrade of the County’s Public Safety Radio System from an analog system to an interoperable digital system.
“The upgrade is necessary to accommodate public safety radio coverage needs, radio tower sites, radio infrastructure, first responder notifications and subscriber radios. There have been some deficiencies in our current radio system which must be corrected,” Maha said in the news release.
“Now what they are building is a network from the bottom up,” he said.
The grant funding is part of the $102 million dollars recently awarded to counties through the Statewide Interoperable Communications Grant Program. Genesee County’s application for this grant funding was submitted by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office.
Genesee will be part of a 10-county regional communications network that will have an integrated radio system, the sheriff said.