SIDNEY – The Shelby County commissioners intend to partner with a company from State College, Pennsylvania, as the county moves ahead in its efforts to improve its radio communications system infrastructure.
The commissioners met Thursday afternoon with Stan Crosley, a consultant with the Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Association, to review a draft of a Phase II and Phase III request for quotation for the infrastructure improvement project. The draft will be reviewed by Eric Ambos, of the Shelby County Prosecutor’s Office, before being sent to MCM Consulting Group, Inc. – the company the commissioners hope to partner with for the project.
The request for quotation outlines what would be MCM Consulting Group’s responsibilities as part of the project. It also requests an overview of what MCM would provide and the cost of those services.
“We’ll find out what they would charge,” Commissioner Bob Guillozet said, “because we haven’t hired them or anything yet. We want to see their numbers and what they would charge to lead us through this next phase.”
The request is part of Phase II of Shelby County’s radio communications system infrastructure improvement project. The county previously worked with MCM Consulting Group in Phase I of the project, which included a needs assessment and strategic plan development with options and recommendations.
As part of Phase I, MCM Consulting Group met with Shelby County’s emergency medical services chiefs, fire chiefs, police chiefs and village administrators to explain the status of the county’s current radio communications system and future challenges. MCM completed a study that included on-site field evaluations and testing plus input from surveys of the county’s first responders.
The commissioners were pleased with MCM Consulting Group’s work and intend to retain the company for the next phase of the project.
The second phase would establish plans to improve the county’s radio communications system. The third phase, which also could include a partnership with MCM Consulting Group, would involve installing the new system.
“Construction’s got to be at least almost a year away,” Guillozet said.
The commissioners are seeking to improve the county’s radio communications infrastructure, which is used for communication between first responders, because of its age and unreliability.
“The original radio system that we’ve got now with the infrastructure we’re trying to replace was put in in the ’60s,” Guillozet said.
Part of the reliability issues stem from a 2013 decision by the Federal Communications Commission that required public safety and industrial radio frequencies to narrow their bandwidth from 25 kHz to 12.5 kHz. The decision was meant to make radio frequencies less congested but also made systems less reliable.
Additionally, parts to repair the system are becoming harder to find with the system’s age. And newer equipment will be digital, which will not be compatible with the county’s analog equipment.
Crosley, a retired Sidney Fire Department chief, is helping to lead Shelby County’s efforts in the infrastructure improvement project. He’s worked with the current radio system for decades and understands the county’s needs.
“He brings a wealth of knowledge and respect to this,” Commissioner Julie Ehemann said.
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