Radio system improve to cowl 98% of the county | Hernando
BROOKSVILLE – Hernando’s district officials looked forward to leaving a nearly five-year challenge in finding funds to upgrade the district’s emergency radio system.
The Hernando County Fire Department and Sheriff’s services will benefit greatly from the upgrade as they now cover up to 98% of the county. The commissioners approved a $ 12.5 million contract with Communications International Inc. at the last board meeting on June 22nd. Funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act will be used for the contract.
“It is a great, top-notch system,” said County Administrator Jeff Rogers. “For me, the standards that came out after the 9/11 commission ensure that all of these agencies are connected on the same system.”
District officials from multiple departments formed a professional services review committee to review and evaluate proposals from Communications International Inc. and Motorola Solutions Inc. The committee included Matthew Balogh, Sheriff’s Department; Larry Cooper, Utilities; James Billotte, Fire Rescue; and Scott Herring, Public Works Department.
Rogers stated that the upgrade will cover most buildings, including most stores. The county will add five towers for service, bringing the total coverage to eight towers. Part of the contract is a long-term life cycle that includes annual maintenance of these systems and upgrades.
“I see this firsthand because I deal with a lot of law enforcement agencies that affect my business,” said Commissioner Steve Champion. “My little shop, you don’t get any reception 15 meters into the building. Believe me, it’s only static. “
Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis told Hernando Today that while the current radio system was “state of the art” when it was installed in the 1990s, it is now dangerously close to being beyond repair.
“Since the district has experienced enormous growth over the past few decades,” said Nienhuis, “there are currently areas in the district where reception with portable radios is at best spotty, even outside on good days.”
He said there had been incidents such as when a vicar called emergency assistance in a patchy communications area during a car chase, but it was impossible to understand what the vicar was trying to convey.
Commissioner Wayne Dukes said that during his career as fire chief he built three different systems around the world, but when he got to Hernando he couldn’t believe what they were working with. Now, 10 years later, Dukes said he couldn’t believe how the county was finally getting close to catching up.
Chairman John Allocco expressed the immensity of finally being able to upgrade these services after all this time.
“It’s nothing small,” said Allocco. “I did the math in my head; this has been discussed with this board member at least 25 times in the last four and a half years.”