“We Cannot Keep It Any Longer”: Westport RTM Approves $ 4.6 million to exchange its city radio system

0

  • An exterior of Westport Town Hall in Westport, Connecticut, on Friday, April 17, 2020.

    An exterior of Westport Town Hall in Westport, Connecticut, on Friday, April 17, 2020.

    Photo: Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticut Media

Photo: Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticut Media

An exterior of Westport Town Hall in Westport, Connecticut, on Friday, April 17, 2020.

An exterior of Westport Town Hall in Westport, Connecticut, on Friday, April 17, 2020.

Photo: Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticut Media

“We Can’t Maintain It Any Longer”: Westport RTM Approves $ 4.6 million to replace its urban radio system

WESTPORT – The city representative assembly unanimously approved a budget of more than $ 4.6 million to replace the radio system for public safety.

The upgrade is an integral part of improving Westport’s emergency response procedures identified after Tropical Storm Isaias, which left almost the entire city without power.

“This is not just a fire department project that benefits all emergency services,” said Matthew Cohen, Westport’s assistant fire chief, at the meeting on Tuesday. “And what you will see about the scalability of the project is that it has the potential to help all urban services in the future when their legacy systems are out of date.”

The funds would help the city join the Connecticut Land Mobile Radio System, a nationwide radio system. This would increase the coverage and reliability of the system in the event of a failure, Cohen said.

“It’s a state-of-the-art wireless network that allows us to use much of the equipment Westport wouldn’t have to buy,” he said, adding that the city needs to expand its goal of 95 percent building coverage.

The city would sign a five-year contract with the state that would automatically be extended for four additional terms. The state would not charge the city any fees for using the system, Cohen said.

He said the city’s current radio system has parts that cannot be repaired as replacement parts are increasingly difficult to find. He added that it was an opportune time to update the system as the city could use a new partnership with the state to increase purchasing power.

The radio system is valued at about $ 3.74 million. By comparison, upgrading existing systems to give the city complete autonomy could cost more than $ 4.75 million.

Additional fees plus a 10 percent contingent liability for the radio project bring the cost to $ 4,635,408.

“While we theoretically considered all of the issues, contingency is important,” Cohen said, adding that it would also help stop any potential delays in the project.

No vendor has been found yet, Cohen says, and the city is working with Fairfield as they move to a common shipping system and the systems need to match. A call for proposals has been drawn up for the project, he said.

The nationwide radio system is already used by 37 federal, state and local authorities. Cohen said the upgrade will also reduce the number of radio sites the city maintains from six to one, with the city only responsible for its single location.

“I think we are at a time where we need to update and replace what we have because we can no longer wait,” said Cohen.

RTM members asked what would happen to the other locations in the city and whether the microwaves from the new system would have any health effects.

According to Cohen, the existing sites were on an urban public safety property and the new system included a focused beam that, due to its height, had minimal impact on ground radiation.

“There are no ground effects based on the focal length of this beam,” he said.

Richard Jaffe, an RTM member, said the city is a good place to live because of the dedicated efforts of public service workers as well as the school system.

“People in the field of public protection are an integral part of our quality of life,” said Jaffe. “They have studied the problem carefully, and this is the most cost effective way for them to solve a problem and continue to serve the city at the high level they do.”

dj.simmons@hearstmediact.com

Leave A Reply