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Pa. emergency services group seeks radio funding

April 04, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Upgrading the radio systems for the police, fire, ambulance, municipal and public safety agencies throughout Franklin County will cost millions, and the Franklin County Emergency Services Alliance is asking for help from state and federal elected officials in securing some of the funding.

Seventy-one separate entities will need new radio equipment to be compatible with the upgraded public safety communications system the county is building over the next few years, Metal Township Supervisor Anna Swailes said. She and other alliance members met Tuesday with state Rep. Todd Rock and representatives of U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, state Sen. Terry Punt and state Reps. Rob Kauffman and Mark Keller to seek assistance.

Meeting the requests of all the agencies involved would cost more than $5 million, according to documents prepared by the alliance.

That figure includes 34 base radios, 886 portable radios, 700 mobile radios, 818 pagers and 213 encrypted radios for police service.

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In addition to the county's 21 fire companies and departments, and 15 ambulance squads, radios would be needed for 15 townships, seven boroughs and six local police departments and other agencies. In one example, the Mercersburg, Montgomery, Peters and Warren (MMP&W) Volunteer Fire Co. is asking for 14 mobile radios, 30 portable radios and 100 pagers.

"I'm in agreement with the project totally," said Rock, R-Franklin. However, he asked if it was essential for all the requests to be filled, or whether the number of radios and pagers being requested could be trimmed.

For its share of the upgrade to the radio system, County Administrator John Hart said the county will spend about $5.5 million. Director of Emergency Services Jerry Flasher said that figure includes increasing the number of radio towers from two to seven to provide reliable radio communications to 95 percent of the county.

"We've committed to see this become a reality," Hamilton Township Supervisor Randy Negley said. He asked the elected officials to help make it happen sooner by providing funds to cover any gap between what can be raised through grants and other sources.

Negley said some of the entities, such as the New Franklin Volunteer Fire Co., have received grants to assist in replacing aging low-band radios. To access some grant funds, he said, the various entities might in some cases have to apply individually, rather than through the alliance as a whole.




What the county needs



Franklin County Emergency Services Alliance say it needs 34 base radios, 886 portable radios, 700 mobile radios, 818 pagers and 213 encrypted radios for police service. In one example, the Mercersburg, Montgomery, Peters and Warren (MMP&W) Volunteer Fire Co. is asking for 14 mobile radios, 30 portable radios and 100 pagers.

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