I agree, but it would be nice, verbal communication and equipment operation at the dispatch end has been a problem.
I think a previous article said the State would waive the fees for the first year, so they have to start planning for year 2.
This may actually help with some issues, as what has built up over 25 years are band aid fixes to a VHF system, and a mobile society. Whereas like similar scenarios around, they went from Plectrons and fire phones at home, with only mobile radios in Fire trucks, to everyone having pagers (not a strain on the system, granted) and then mobile and finally portable proliferation. So a system that was originally built with one repeater to page, and communicate with mobiles has been asked to progressively support coverage for portables, which sometimes were low quality and not properly maintained.
I hope the change will do two things: 1. Limit portable radios to only those that need them, while giving them better coverage and quality from both portables, and in truck mobiles, making the system easier to oversee and control. And 2. Get the hodge podge of repeaters off the air, leaving only wire line controlled simplex base stations to page over, and use as backup. This would end some of the non-business chatter and clutter that is not always "skip" and such. They can retain VHF mobiles and Station bases for backup and mutual aid, if so programmed. With some of the townships having a "TAC" channel, which should be labeled as Fireground or Chatter, they can use those as they do now to keep MARCS traffic to as needed only. And hopefully, there is more than one dispatch talkgroup, as they do get multiple incidents going, and having at least two would be helpful.
I seem to perceive there is also a mis-conception that this will automatically give them ability to talk to anyone in the State, which wouldn't be true, as not everyone has MARCS, may have it soon, or need/want/afford it. I think the article infers ability to talk to anyone else on MARCS, which in this county is the City, which is fine, but it's not an everyday thing, and OSP. I highly doubt VFD portables would be programmed with OSP talk groups for direct access. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.
Don't count the chickens before they're hatched, folks.
This only says they applied for the grant. So have counties and departments all over the state, many in just as bad shape. There's no guarantee they'll get it.
Remember, using MARCS won't totally help unless they change the way they do things; many of the problems they're having could be alleviated with changes in procedure and proper training, but then that's an issue many departments have.
And that's what I was getting at...the main "trigger" for this round of clammering was an incident a couple years ago where no one could talk, all blamed on the radios and repeater (shouldn't be on the repeater for fire ground operations anyway) and later found (but I don't think widely known) that their radios were programmed inconsistently (different or even same department(s), programmed different ways) and channel names that varied. Even if they had MARCS then, coverage on-system may or may have not been an issue, and they should have been on simplex to talk 150 feet to a truck anyway.
Even the neighboring county that is 800 has fireground talkgroups, and I have never seen where they actually have anything simplex, and when they helped out, it could be considered unlikely they would have had a simplex frequency that matched one in the the other departments radios, had that department had MARCS.
Point is, there is an issue, I hope they can make strides to really fix it. I fear alot of people involved do not know what they do not know.