Franklin Co. to shift to new digital emergency services radio system

More than 99 percent of accessible areas tested had radio coverage with the new system

January 11, 2011

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Franklin County is expected to shift to its new emergency services radio system in the next several weeks, county commissioners said Tuesday.

David Donahue, Franklin County's director of emergency services, told commissioners that recent testing of the radio system has shown it exceeds the requirements of the contract.

More than 99 percent of accessible areas tested had radio coverage with the new digital system, according to a news release from the commissioners. Currently, about 82 percent of Franklin County has acceptable radio transmission and reception capabilities with the old analog system.

The county will begin the transition to the new system later this month, with all users on the new radio system within a few weeks.

"We will be simulcasting on the analog system as long as feasible," Commissioner Bob Thomas said Tuesday after the meeting. The primary reason is for pagers, which are set on the older frequencies, he said.

Bryan Stevenson, coordinator of the Franklin County Communications Center, said the system will have great benefits.

"The new system has greatly improved our ability to communicate with responders in the field and will greatly improve the safety of emergency responders and the community," Stevenson said in the release.  

In addition to testing the system, Franklin County communications center personnel and field users have undergone training to operate the new equipment and are growing comfortable with its use.  

 "(The) positive test results of the new emergency services radio system are a testament to the hard work, planning, and cooperation of numerous public and private organizations," Commissioner Chairman David Keller said in the release.

"The ultimate measure of the project's success will be in lives saved. Our citizens are safer because of their investment in this radio system," Commissioner Bob Ziobrowski said in the release.

The radio system has been a major priority of the Board of Commissioners, which has shepherded the project through changes in technology and federal band-width requirements.  

Prior reports estimated the cost of the radio system project at $6.7 million. Current cost figures were not available Tuesday night.

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