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Franklin Co. 911 going digital

September 15, 1998|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Franklin County's aging 911 system will get another upgrade in a few weeks when the old reel-to-reel system for recording emergency calls is replaced by a digital audio tape system.

The county commissioners opened two bids Tuesday on systems from Sprint of Carlisle, Pa., and K&C Communications of Harrisburg, Pa. A decision to award or reject the bids is expected Thursday.

K&C Communications' bid was $1,605 a month for five years, compared to $1,697 from Sprint. K&C Communications also offered $9,000 for a trade-in on the old system, which has been in use since the county got 911 in 1987.

The K&C lease would cost the county about $87,000 over five years, compared to $102,000 for the Sprint system.

"The choice was quickly becoming either to invest money to update old equipment or get new equipment," said County Commissioner G. Warren Elliott.

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Bryan Stevens, the county's director of 911, said repairing the old system would mean replacing eight recording heads at $1,200 apiece, plus 75 worn and spliced 25-hour tapes at about $75 apiece.

Stevens said the digital audio tapes will provide greater clarity and reliability. The tapes are often used in police investigations and in court, where clarity can be crucial, he said.

In July, the county also approved a new computer-aided dispatch system from Sprint for the 911 center at a cost of $9,827 a month. Stevens said the system will be on line in November and will tell dispatchers which police, fire and ambulance units should be sent to an emergency.

Stevens said it will also keep track of what units are available for service.

Earlier this month the county accepted bids on early warning monitors to activate the sirens at the county's 20 fire stations. The $40,000 project will tie those sirens in with the National Weather Service and federal, state and county emergency management agencies.

On Tuesday, the county also opened five bids on office furniture for the Adult Probation Department ranging from $38,000 to $46,000. The department is moving to the Pennsylvania State Police barracks on Walker Road next year after the police move to a new barracks on Franklin Farm Lane.

The county purchased the barracks in the spring for $532,000 from Renaissance Associates. Elliott said buying the barracks was about the same cost as estimates for renovating the department's offices on Franklin Farm Lane.

The county was able to pay for the building with savings from the refinancing of a bond issue last year, Elliott said.

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