Canandaigua, NY - Steven Little: County radio system costly and needless

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studgeman

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I can't speak to the politics of Ontario County. Mr. Little speaks of little fact and mostly opinion, none of which he can or does back up. I hope Mr. Little has retired before his "know it all" attitude get someone hurt. 30 years in a fire department doesn't make you an expert in communications. Perhaps he should let the communications experts do thier job, Comm experts dont tell him how to put a fire out...
 

jim202

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I can't speak to the politics of Ontario County. Mr. Little speaks of little fact and mostly opinion, none of which he can or does back up. I hope Mr. Little has retired before his "know it all" attitude get someone hurt. 30 years in a fire department doesn't make you an expert in communications. Perhaps he should let the communications experts do thier job, Comm experts dont tell him how to put a fire out...

The big question here is why all of a sudden is the county looking to go to a 700 MHz trunking system? Without even knowing who has been the original source of the groundwork on why a completely different radio system is needed, my guess is that some slick radio sales force met with the county head and said because of the FCC mandates, you have to make changes to your radio system. It has to be done before January 01, 2013. How am I doing so far?

This has been a common push around the country by one vendor that we will keep nameless. They are preying on the plain stupidity of the people in the county and those people are too dumb to even ask questions outside the meeting to even see if what they are being represented is true. They just go with the flow. The tax payers take it in the rear again.

How much of what has been presented is the truth, we probably will never know. Is it in the best interest of the county to blunder ahead without bringing in some experts? Not on your life. Will the do it anyway? My bet is more than likely. They are listening to one of the biggest radio companies in the country. Why would the sales force from that company lead them down the wrong road? Money and lots of it.

What is the best road to take at this point? I would rock the boat and ask a bunch of questions to make the county management justify why they think that they need to spend millions of dollars on a radio system that probably is not needed. My bet would be some careful changes to what they have now and a few upgrades will fit the county just fine for many years to come. However, unless they have bought new UHF radios in the last 3 or 4 years, they are probably looking at replacing a whole bunch of those radios with the narrow band mandate. Oh did I mention that January 01, 2013 that all radios in the VHF (150 to 172MHz) and the UHF (450 to 512MHz) need to be narrow banded. Seems like that date was brought up here before. Only it wasn't a requirement to move to 700 MHz. Just to narrow band the operation on the VHF and UHF frequencies. Nothing has been said about the low band (30 to 50 MHz). Radios in the low band can continue as they are.

Maybe someone should tell the county management that a few facts that they were presented by the radio sales force are a little out of balance.
 

studgeman

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Jim valid points, and I am assuming you mean Motorola when you reference "Vendor" This case the Vendor is Harris, and it comes on the heals of the Monroe contract.

Ontario has been trying to get an overhaul of its communications system for some time and no one has been willing to spend the money. The UHF started as a band-aid for the Low Band fire system and was pieced together. It is effective to a certain extent.

A top to bottom upgrade and design is needed. Whether a trunked system is required is a matter of debate. I am just happy that since they chose digital they chose P25 instead of a business/professional digtial system.
 

SkyPager

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"Self-contained breathing apparatus, generators, saws, fire engine motors, etc., interfere with the operation of these radios, thus the fire chief may not be able to hear his interior firefighters call for help."


Mr Little speaks a great deal of nothing. More than any man in Ontario County, NY.
 

studgeman

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"Self-contained breathing apparatus, generators, saws, fire engine motors, etc., interfere with the operation of these radios, thus the fire chief may not be able to hear his interior firefighters call for help."

Yeah loud noises interfere with any radio, not just digital. I could pick his arguements apart but I think I would find the character limit for comments on here.
 

kc9cra

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I can't speak to the politics of Ontario County. Mr. Little speaks of little fact and mostly opinion, none of which he can or does back up. I hope Mr. Little has retired before his "know it all" attitude get someone hurt. 30 years in a fire department doesn't make you an expert in communications. Perhaps he should let the communications experts do thier job, Comm experts dont tell him how to put a fire out...
Are you saying he's wrong? He should stick to his area of expertise, but he's absolutely right. It's not just that county either. All over governments are buying hugely expensive radios that aren't necissary. Is the new digital system going to make it easier to put out a fire? Are you saying that it's better to spend 40000 dollars on ten radios as opposed to a few thousand a piece for new defibrrilators?

Is it really that important to have the latest greatest technology? Really, that's what this boils down to. Yes, cops and firefighters complain all day about call chasers, but a digital system can't keep someone from seeing the flashing lights and hearing the siren. Then they follow the truck. You don't need a scanner for that. Plus, I'm not sure if most public servants have that big a problem with us. I really think it's just areturn to high school where you must have the coolest stuff, you just have to or you'll, like, die. Our officials need to grow-up and spend our money on what really matters, and no making your system only hearable by expensive scanners isn't important. Training and hiring more officers and firefighters is, more bullet proof vests are, training more rescue and police dogs is, maintaining emergency vehicles is, and the list goes on and on. If you want to buy a cool new system to impress the other counties, do it with the mayor's salary, not the people's.

"Before he gets someone hurt" Really, so an analog system hurts people? How is someone going to be denied service by the fire department if they stick with the system that has worked until now? I'm just askin.
 

jim202

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Having been in the fire service for over 35 years myself, maybe I do understand some of the problems that come up while fighting fires. Also having worked for a couple of engineering and consulting firms along the way, I have been out in the field working with both public safety and federal agencies that have requested help in molding their communication systems into something better. I travel the country frequently going to dispatch centers to work on radio interoperability systems. There isn't much that I haven't seen or heard about system problems on these trips.

What I have read here and try to read between the lines here doesn't provide enough information to even draw any conclusions. Let us try to keep the bias out of out opinions and stick to the facts that are lacking in the presentation so far. If you have the start of a UHF system, then continue to build on it. If it doesn't provide the total coverage the county needs, then improve on it. But don't throw it all away and start over on a new band. Unless your in a city environment, stay away from 700 or 800 MHz. It will take way too many sites to provide good coverage. Unless you have a bunch of VHF channels, it makes no sense to migrate to that band. So your stuck with the UHF. Like it or lump it, it is the best bet.

With all that said, I don't give a rats butt about the politics on this system. Find a way to settle the problems and move on. Don't let some wild man at the top steer the game here because some company comes in and lays some grand plan in front of you. Make them show you how it will solve the county problems and not fill the bank account of the radio company. Make the company produce coverage plots, tower locations, real costs of building towers and shelters, provide generators and a good grounding system. Depending on how far apart the sites are and the type of countryside, is a microwave practical or running fiber underground a better selection. Don't rely on telco lines to connect your sites back to the dispatch center.

Facts and numbers people. You can't make decisions without the facts. Then get someone outside the county with no interest to go over the findings to make sure your going in the right direction.
 
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studgeman

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Jim, thank your for a very good response. I concur with 100% of your thoughts. As a consultant who works very dilgently to make sure whatever system goes in meets the requiements of the users, his editorial is not helpful to anyone, including the entire public safety field. Having done some work in Ontario County several years ago, they were in real need of a comprehensive solution, not necessarily a 700MHz APCO25 trunked radio system, but I can guess why they went in that direction, some of it being Canadian coordination issues.

I am upset that Mr. Little was able to get guest editoral opinion, as if he was some expert. Nothing he said was true. Perhaps Mr. Little should take a trip down the thruway and visit some of his collegues in Onondaga County, then go south to Tompkins Co. for some persepctive. He might actually learn something.

Expensive is in the eye of the beholder, unneeded is in the hands of the user. I am still trying to figure out where he shops for his radios, his prices don't match mine, and I use state contract...
 
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