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Maine Regional Dispatch

The state of Maine is requiring local public safety agencies to regionalize their communications operations, but the mandate has sparked debate of local control, funding and efficiency. The Public Utilities Commission is administering the consoldiation effort, similar to what has occurred in many other states hoping to reduce spending and improve communications. On Sept. 25th the Commission will issue a list of PSAPs that should be closed and their operations moved to a regional center. The legislature’s mandate set a deadline of Oct. 1, 2007 to reach jsut 26 PSAPs, down from the current 46. Read more here.

No Discipline for Absence

Grand Rapids (Mich.) fire chief John VanSlokema will not discipline the crew of a fire engine that was out of the station on errands when a man suffered a heart attack in their district and later died. An editorial in the Grand Rapids Press newspaper said there are still questions about why the fire unit was retrieving dry boots from another station during the incident, and why it took dispatchers 90 seconds to alert units to the incident. The second-due unit responed and arrived 9 minutes after the first 911 call. The newspaper said, “But there were better options to getting dry boots than leaving a fire station empty to pick them up.” Read more here.

New 911 Gear

An article in the Daily Herald newspaper says that the Provo (Utah) police comm center has, “recently purchased a machine that will allow dispatch agents to locate cell phone callers.” Actually, it’s a computerized system by Positron Public Safety Systems that was purchased for $250,000, and will display Phase II mapping information for cellular 911 calls. Read more about the city’s new system here.

Pager Problems

The Flathead County (Mont.) administrative board has hired RCC Consulting for $57,000 to perform a study of their public safety paging system, and make rcommendations improving radio coverage so firefighters don’t miss incidents notifications. During August officials said they sent out 158 pages, but 8 of those failed to set off pagers in the field. Read more about cellular phone glitches, staffing problems and lack of funding at the center here.

New Radio System

The Waxahachie (Tex.) city council has approved a lease/purchase arrangement for a new $1.3 million radio system upgrade, tagging along on the existing Motorola, 800 MHz trunked radio system operated by the Houston-Galveston Area Council. Police officers and firefighters have complained that the current city system doesn’t have sufficient in-building coverage, and usually have to post personnel outside to relay information during incidents. The new system has better coveage, and will allow interoperability among more Ellis County public safety agencies.

New 911 System On-Line

Lincoln County (Geo.) will turn on their new E911 system next Wednesday, provided by Baker Integrated Technologies, LLC for $221,000. The new system will support wireless E911 calls, provide two dispatch consoles, CAD and mapping software, and includes upgrades over the next five years. The center will hold an open house on Sept. 24th from 2-4 p.m. Read more about the center here.

2-Day Search for 911 Call

Benton County (Ark.) dispatcher Toni Brandon fielded a wireless E911 call where a child’s voice said, “He shot me.” The call was disconnected, and a call back went unanswered. Dispatcher Tammy Rogers tracked the phone down to a pre-paid T-Mobile handset purchased by someone in Texas. She also learned from the company the area from which the call was made. But she didn’t find any matching incidents reported to police or fire in that area. She spent the next two days working on the call in between other incidents. On the second day T-Mobile provided phone numbers that the handset had called, and Rogers began dialing some of them. She eventually reached the phone owner’s cousin, who located the owner in Rogers (Ark.). A call there determined that the handset had been to her kids to play with, and the 911 call had been just a prank. Read the full store here.

Rusty Screws = Static?

Believe it or not, technicians have traced static on the Howard County (Ind.) public safety radio system to rusty screws on a antena tower. The tower is on the roof of a downtown Kokomo office building, and the radio problems have prompted the county commissioners to consider moving the tower. Commissioner Brad Bagwell told a reporter, “The more oxidation that takes place, the greater the interference. The tower needs to be cleaned.” A new tower would also help eliminate dead spots that field units are experiencing around the county.

Verizon Public Safety Radio?

The RCR Wireless News Web site reports that Verizon Wireless has a plan to build a nationwide broadband public-safety network using 24 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band allocated to public safety back in 1997. Under the plan, 12 MHz of the allocation would be used to create the system, which would be augmented by Verizon’s existing network. The plan is similar to one proposed by Sprint Nextel under the Cyren Call program. Sources told RCR that Verizon has met with APCO officials to discuss their plan, although association officials declined comment. Read the story here.

Comm Center Shelter?

Does your comm center need some weather protection? The Home Depot is test-selling in-house storm shelters that feature a Kevlar design and a design to withstand a 250 mph wind. There are two sizes initially: 4’x6′ and 4’x8′ that range from $6,000 to $10,000. The shelters are being sold only in one Texas store, but should be available in more stores along the hurricane and tornado belt in the coming months.

Dispute Over Center

The West Virginia State Police say they don’t intend to occupy space reserved for them inside the Kanawa County Metro 911 building in Charleston, two years after officials agreed to consolidate communciations within the $14 million building. A new state police superintendent took over 8 months after the agreement was reached, and Col. Dave Lemmon told a reporter, “If anybody decided to move it out there, I don’t know whose decision that was. It wasn’t mine. We’re here, and we plan on staying here.” He says his dispatchers will stay at a newly-renovated center in South Charleston. “The situation we have now works for us and I think it’s working for them,” he said. Read more about the situation here.

Radio Wires Cause Fire

A battery charger for a police radio caught fire during a hurricane-caused power outage in the town hall of Smithfield (Virg., pop. 6,324), causing damage that has closed the second floor of buildingl. The fire caused smoke and water damage that destroyed the police department’s computers, servers and associated software, although news reports didn’t indicate exactly what applications were unavailable. Police officials said they’d be booking prisoners at the Wight Sheriff’s Department until the fire damage is repaired.


The Minnesota Department of Transportation has finished a federally-funded field test of a system to automatically routes 911 calls initiated by telematics devices to the appropriate PSAP, something that is called TSP Emergency Call Routing Service, or the acronym “TSPECRS.” The testing was performed by two consulting companies under contract to the U.S. Department of Transportation, which has now issued a report on the tests. If you can get beyond the acronyms, read the complex work they performed here.

Wireless Data System

Providence (RI) mayor David N. Cicilline unveiled the city’s new, $2.3 million wireless data system, which gives the city’s police and fire departments broadband capabilities to share data while in the field. The Motorola-built system was funded with federal grants, and uses mesh network technology to link mobile units and the police headquarters. Right now 24 police cars and three fire department command vehicles are linked to the network, allowing them to download video, mugshots, fingerprints and other high-bandwidth data.

Gunshot Detection System

The city of Minneapolis has installed a gunshot location system using technology from ShotSpotter Inc., hoping to reduce the number of incidents where officers are dispatched to investigate the sounds of gunfire, particularly in the 3rd Precinct. A company press release says it’s one of the first installations of the wireless version of the technology developed by the company, and can be linked to video cameras to show the area of the gunfire, and to taping systems to provide archival records. Learn more about ShotSpotter here.