The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

August 13, 2013

Albemarle City Council approves new radios for police, fire departments

By Tiffany Thompson, Staff Writer

Sunday, August 11, 2013 — Albemarle City Council approved the purchase of nearly 120 radios for the Albemarle fire and police departments during their regular meeting last Monday.

The radios will be needed once the county 911 system makes the switch to the Charlotte Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) system, which is expected to take place within the next two years.

“Our current radio system is in excess of 30 years old and utilizes different frequency bands and various repeaters, especially for law enforcement. In an effort to bring our radio system in line with current technology the county of Stanly has agreed to spend more than $8 million to update the communications system for the county,” Albemarle Fire Chief Shawn Oke said in a presentation to city council Monday evening.

“This upgrade will mean the total replacement of our public safety radio system to an 800 MHz system. The system will allow public safety agencies in our county to communicate seamlessly together and with Union, Cabarrus and Mecklenburg counties.”

The Stanly County Commissioners made the decision in June to replace the 911 system, which would include installing new system infrastructure at a cost of approximately $5.4 million.

Another $1 million is anticipated for the construction of approximately three radio towers, which will be built to specifications that could withstand category 3 hurricane force winds. The towers would also require minimal maintenance.

In addition, the county estimates spending approximately $1.5 million on new radios that will be compatible with the new system.

These radios will be divided between each fire department in the county, so that each department will receive 15 radios. This will reduce the number of radios the city will be required to purchase for the Albemarle Fire Department.

“We need a total of 42 radios to provide each person in the department with a radio. Due to the manner by which our department operates through frequent callbacks for off duty personnel, a personally issued radio would assure incident operations occur without interruption,” Oke said.

“But with the county providing each fire department with 15 radios, this will reduce the number of portable radios we need to purchase from 42 to 27.”

The cost for those 27 radios is estimated to be $114,664.

The fire department will also need 10 radios to be installed in vehicles, which are projected to cost $38,051.

Additionally, two repeaters will be needed to be installed in two buildings within the city, the construction of which will not allow the radios to reach the county repeater system.

The total estimated cost for radios for the fire department is $188,939.

Meanwhile, the police department will need 55 portable radios, for an estimated cost of $198,524, and 27 radios for department vehicles, at a cost of $94,264.

The total cost for radios for the police department will be approximately $292,788, for a total cost of replacing all radios with the fire and police departments at $481,727.

“The purchase of these new radios will allow our police and fire departments to communicate utilizing safety features and other technology not currently available to our agencies,” Oke said.

These features include an emergency button that can alert everyone on the channel that the operator is in need of help, as well as a person down feature, which allows the radio to sense the person operating it has gone into a horizontal position.

“When the radio goes into a horizontal position for a predetermined amount of time with no movement, the radio sends out an alert. If there continues to be no movement, the radio will automatically send out an emergency signal that the person with the radio is in trouble,” Oke said.

The radios will also be equipped with a global positioning system (GPS) that will allow the communications center to know the location of the operator should there be an emergency.

The new radios will also offer encrypted messaging, which will prevent anyone other than an agency with a programmed radio from hearing the communications taking place.

Motorola, who will be providing financing for the purchase of the new radios, will also issue a $450 credit for each radio the departments trade-in, which would result in a savings of $55,000.

To submit story ideas, contact Tiffany Thompson at (704) 982-2121 ext. 24 or