Fairfield Township tidbits

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W2IRT

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Earlier today I had the chance to socialize briefly with a Fairfield PD officer, who also happens to be their radio system expert. When he realized I was the ham with the big antenna array he passes daily he was quite happy to discuss their system at some length. At the moment the've removed all the 800 MHz radios from their cruisers and they've been replaced with compact Motorola 700 MHz radios on NJPSIC (which I referred to by name), and they have a separate VHF Hi-band radio for SPEN.

Not all radios have the second talkgroup installed, but they hope to have this completed shortly. They will be using encryption on the second talkgroup but he wasn't sure if it was planned to be full-time or part-time. I recall talking to a different Fairfield official two years ago, after one of their officers was shot in the line of duty and badly wounded, and he indicated that the brass were livid that the media had gotten certain details off the radio, so they wanted the ability to keep private matters private.

The general consensus amongst his fellow officers, from what I gathered, is that the PSIC radios are orders of magnitude better than their old repeatered 800 MHz conventional system, which apparently was having transmitter link problems that Verizon was unable to fix to the department's satisfaction.

One other tidbit he mentioned is that the PD has donated the old 800 MHz radios to the township for works and roads crews, which will replace their existing 45 MHz VHF-Low system later this year.

One final note, he stated that they're hoping to equip their cruisers with BC536 mobile scanners to receive neighbouring departments on incompatible systems. It's interesting monitoring things in this part of the county: West Caldwell, Caldwell, North Caldwell and Roseland are on conventional systems (VHF-Hi and UHF), Verona is on 470 MHz EDACS-Narrow, Fairfield is on NJPSIC, Wayne is on a 500 MHz P25 conventional system, the state PD is on both 800 analog and 700 digital, and the Morris County is a mix of conventional and trunked, analog and Phase-I P-25 systems. All this within about a 10 mile radius! They've given up any remote attempt at true Interop on anything other than the VHF SPEN channels.

My thanks to this good gent from Fairfield.
 
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ff75

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They've given up any remote attempt at true Interop on anything other than the VHF SPEN channels.
And that was the whole point of forcing everyone to go over to these non reliable, way over priced complicated systems
 

W2IRT

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When I moved into West Caldwell, new residents were invited to the town hall to meet the local officials. I talked to the police chief and he was absolutely adamant that he wanted no part of switching to any sort of trunked or digital radio system for the township. They're on a VHF high band conventional analog repeater with a great signal everywhere and loud, crisp audio. Meanwhile the next town over (Verona) went with an EDACS-Narrow trunked system that their people can't hear well half the time, and even within town limits, it sounds like it's two counties over, with a perpetually weak signal and very light, thin audio. Sometimes you just can't beat the classics.

As an "old fashioned" ham, I'm convinced that our 2m/440 repeater systems will ultimately provide better coverage and clearer communication overall than 3/4 of the fancy systems rolled out for local agencies--at a fraction of the cost.
 

AC2OY

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So that's why I hear Fairfield on those systems very interesting. I also agree with the previous poster about the UHF/VHF 2m 440 stuff!! Nutley NJ is on 154.785 for as long as I can remember and their signal is booming for me!! Actually so is Bloomfield and their not to far down the dial from Newark. The only two that I get static on are Irvington and Clifton. A esteemed college here told me that Clifton took down a few antenna's which would explain a great many things.
 

W2IRT

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Fairfield was also briefly on the NJ State PD 800 MHz system, but it was never meant to be permanent. They're trying to get funding to replace everything with Phase-II gear on PSIC (eventually) but for the moment, they're staying Phase-I and are very pleased with it.

From a personal standpoint, I still wish that Essex County would do what Morris is in the process of doing, and that's centralizing 9-1-1 and radio dispatch with a county-wide system for PD and FD dispatch, and giving towns a good case for cutting costs in moving to the new way of doing things. But in this highly-dysfunctional county in this highly-dysfunctional state, I just don't see it happening anytime soon. I cut my teeth in scanning in Toronto, at a time when pleece dispatching was centralized for the city but each borough/city inside the GTA had its own FD, and watched as everything amalgamated. TPS and TFS were the real winners, and the way it evolved was quite positive for all concerned, IMHO; at least as far as the radio systems and organizational hierarchies were concerned.
 

Markscan

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I work in Fairfield and it's a pleasure to listen to them now. As for Veronas EDACS, you are right, it sucks! The police hate that system, and would go back to their UHF conventional channel, which by the way is simulcasting police dispatch to this day, in a heart beat. They are stuck using 15 year old MRK 2 radios , with third party batteries that don't last very long at all. But the biggest problem with the Verona system, is the system administrator. It's his way or no way at all. You get what he thinks you need, and that's it. Until they get a Chief who will stand up to him, nothing will change. I understand Verona is planning to go P 25 phase 2 at some point, but that's a few years away. The story I heard was that they were trying to drum up support for a West Essex Regional trunked system of some kind, but outside of Verona their does not appear to be any interest. As always, we will have to wait and see.


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W2IRT

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The Fairfield copper I talked to yesterday said there are rumblings about a West Essex system every year but he doubts anybody will commit to it. Interesting to know about Verona. I wonder how the comms sound on dedicated radios rather than a scanner, because no scanner I've ever owned receives them well. I don't know where their transmitter is located but it sure sounds like it's either underpowered or nowhere near the town. Even driving through Verona it's weaker than dishwater.
 

ansky

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It's kind of absurd for a small town like Verona to have a TRS. It's not like they have so much radio traffic that a conventional system can't handle.

I live right nearby in West Orange and I can't pick up the PD UHF simulcast for some reason, but I can hear the TRS frequencies, although quite weak.
 

W2IRT

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If the simulcast is indeed working it's got to be extremely low power. I can't hear it in West Caldwell either. I'll throw it in the truck radio and sit in Verona and see if I can hear it.
 

W2IRT

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The Fire/EMS dispatch simulcast is indeed enabled, andhas a strong signal in W.C. I think I heard the PD simulcast, too, but with an extremely weak signal. I will try again next week and see what crops up.
 

W2IRT

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I haven't heard a peep on the PD simulcast UHF frequency since plugging it in to my home scanner. So either the TX power is just a couple of Watts or the link is down. I haven't been driving anywhere near Verona since this thread began, so I'll post more once I take a drive east.
 
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The Fairfield copper I talked to yesterday said there are rumblings about a West Essex system every year but he doubts anybody will commit to it. Interesting to know about Verona. I wonder how the comms sound on dedicated radios rather than a scanner, because no scanner I've ever owned receives them well. I don't know where their transmitter is located but it sure sounds like it's either underpowered or nowhere near the town. Even driving through Verona it's weaker than dishwater.
The Verona TRS transmitters are mounted on the massive tower located at a firehouse on Bloomfield Avenue near Fells Road. The simulcast UHF PD transmitter is located at Verona PD HQ.

The 448.875 MHz ham repeater is located at the highest spot in Verona; that is where the PD used to transmit from when their primary frequency was the UHF T-band channel.
 

W2IRT

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I regularly hit that repeater on low power from my basement! For the trunked system, I wonder why the audio is so poor to begin with, and why their signal is so weak if they're on that tower.
 
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