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Report to council seeks upgrade over costly new communications system for fire department

Deputy Fire Chief Robert Rutter will update council on the municipality’s 2014 request to conduct a study on the department’s two-way communication system.

Over the years the fire department has noted concerns regarding deficiencies with the current radio system. A consultant was hired to assist with a detailed review. Robert Fraser P. Eng, President of Fraser, Popovski & Associates Inc will join Rutter at the committee of the whole meeting Thursday.

It is estimated the $450,000 cost to upgrade the analog system – which is considered basic, but economical – would allow it to be valid for about 15 years. No provincial or federal government funding is available, however it is proposed to have no impact on the tax levy by using funds from the Reserve for Fire Vehicle and Equipment Replacement fund.

Council will hear an upgrade to the existing system is necessary to address deficiences including:
-large areas where truck-to-dispatch communication is almost impossible and handset-to-dispatch communication is non-existent;
-During more serious working fires in these areas, communications cannot be monitored or recorded at dispatch;
-Firefighters have been unable to receive emergency calls on their pagers when they are not in their immediate response area.

Three issues identified involve re-locating the north and west towers; a simulcasting system for the four towers to permit more seamless and thorough communications and application made for a second frequency for a second working channel so calls can be received, monitored and recorded at dispatch.

The cost to replace communications with a digital system was considered, but discounted due to the high cost. In 2006 Belleville’s fire department installed a new digital Motorola system at a cost of $1.7 million. In 2014, Frontenac County received a report noting a new digital radio system installed over the next few years would cost about $7 million.

Filed Under: Local News

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  1. Marnie says:

    Council does not seem to get it. All of these increased charges and user fees are likely to tip the scales for those earning minimum wage and seniors on fixed incomes. Seemingly council does not know where to turn for the money it needs so they are slapping on more tax hikes and user fees but that will only work for so long. There is a breaking point,

  2. Gary says:

    It’s beyond me how a couple on minimum wage with 2 kids can make it. I don’t like to see such a degree of have and have not’s in our community. Electricity, water, heat, food are essentials along with a roof. We are a small rural County with big city governance. Something has to give.

  3. Marnie says:

    Some reasonable changes have to occur Gary if the county is to be an affordable place to live.

  4. Gary says:

    We don’t agree on this one Marnie, but I’d rather continue to put the facts in front of politicians in the hope that that some reasonable changes will occur.

  5. Marnie says:

    I do not use the sidewalks outside your home, Gary, or your street lights that make a security light unnecessary. I do not use your treated water purification system which makes a water conditioner optional nor do I use your expensive new waste disposal system. My taxes and those of other rural residents help to pay for all of those perks for you. Where do you see the difference??

  6. Gary says:

    Ah, I am not speaking about a free ride. I don’t pay for your services but I also do not use them. There lies the difference.

  7. Marnie says:

    @Gary – Yes, I shop in your urban centre but I also pay high taxes and reap few of your urban benefits. I don’t have sidewalks, street lighting)had to buy my own security light) and do not have the advantage of parks. My well water is hard so I had to install a water-softening system at my own expense. Those of us living rurally are not stealing a ride on Picton’s coat-tails. We pay for what we have. And as for your urban centre, these days the stores on Main Street fail to provide a lot of the everyday items required in many households. This means a trip to Belleville for these things. If you want touristy items and gee-gaws Picton is the place but forget it if shopping for mini-blinds,a man’s suit,or shoes that don’t cost upwards of $120. In scanning the real estate ads I have discovered that I pay higher taxes that the owners of some very desirable Picton houses. Don’t talk to me about a free ride.

  8. Gary says:

    Thanks Marnie. Oh of course, no free rides. Just equity and fairness in the provision of an urban centre for use by others.

  9. Marnie says:

    @Gary – No, but I had to have a well drilled and now must maintain it. When there was a problem with the pump it was not cheap to repair it. I also maintain a septic system. Water bills in Picton are high I know but there are also expenses involved when living rurally. There is no free ride.

  10. Gary says:

    Marnie; are you subject to urban water & wastewater charges?

  11. Marnie says:

    @ Chris – Funny, but that’s what we used to do and I do not recall any fatalities as a result of anyone waiting for the aerial ladder. The wish list could go on forever. I’m sick and tired of it. A lot of things would be nice if we could afford them but if we conducted our personal finances in the devil-may-care manner you seem to support we would be bankrupt. Good to know that your pockets are deep.

  12. Chris Keen says:

    @”Marnie” I’m struggling to imagine you sitting patiently in a fire waiting for the Belleville aerial truck to rescue you!!

  13. Fred says:

    Snow angel; we can ensure and legislate that everyone is so safe in every facet of life now that they need not fear anything. They will be safer but may not be able to purchase a home, raise a family, put adequate food on the table and contribute like in the past to maintain a viable community. All these upgrades are great in a rich and perfect world. Many are not living that dream.

  14. Jack Dall says:

    The new fire truck won’t fit into the new fire hall.

  15. Marnie says:

    No one wants to see the fire department badly under-equipped but this is ridiculous. Did we not used to call for the Belleville aerial ladder in emergency situations? I believe it was called Mutual Aid.They were not happy with the new truck, now its a new communications system too. What part of “the taxpayers cannot dig any deeper” does council not understand?

  16. snow angel says:

    Opinions are just that. Im sure the facts will speak for themselves, yes improvements can be costly. Im sure the department doesnt dream up these expenditures, equipment/communications systems change with the times, I for one want them to be able to send people to help in my time of need.

  17. Hildagard says:

    It’s amazing how this was not brought to council until the new fire truck was approved. Once they got that, then the flood gates opened with more huge expenses. How are the tax payers going to pay for all of this–especially with the news that water rates are going to skyrocket!! This County is now for the wealthy only–middle and poor classes can not afford these escalating costs!! Council wake up and stop this spending spree!! Maybe the downtown revitalization program should have been placed on hold to offset the rising costs of water services!! Something has to give…this is getting ridiculous!

  18. Jack Dall says:

    Maybe a letter to Santa might work

    Mom and Dad can’t afford it.

    In this day of constant communication I feel that other alternatives can and should be found.
    This is an irresponsible request . There appears to be no one considering ” how can we make do” in the process. Once again “Champagne tastes on our beer budget” and nobody wants to say no. Get out the credit card, it’s going to happen. Put it on the never never plan. Never ever paid for!!

  19. Fred says:

    Truth be known there are far fewer fires that claim lives as of now. With new building codes and an emphasis on fire safety lives lost are much lower than prior. Big wood stove fires in rural areas are a disaster before any response would arrive.

  20. Chuck says:

    It is time for a full disclosure of what fire protection services are costing ratepayers. Perhaps contracting services is more feasible. As an example Belleville could man the new station reducing the high priced management costs. They are also far closer to the populace of Ameliasburgh. We need to turn over every stone.

  21. Mark says:

    I have said it before. Families are maxed out and now borrowing to pay everyday expenses. Skyrocketing energy costs killing business. Regulated right up your you know what! Ontario is 300 Billion in debt! This all with record low interest rates. When rates rise which they will by even 1 – 3 % there will be a crash like none other. It is simply not sustainable. Those with wealth such as boomers will leave Ontario to protect their $$ and not undergo the severe pain of austerity. For the seniors that helped build this County I feel badly for as well as the youth that have few opportunities to succeed under this scenario.

  22. Susan says:

    $120,000 for a Fire Chief in little old Prince Edward is pretty good hay!

  23. Emily says:

    It isn’t ending Marnie. It is madness! If you just took 2 County jobs as in the Fire Chief and Deputy Fire Chief the base salaries and benefits are well over $200,000. There is going to be a reckoning at some point soon.

  24. Marnie says:

    Where does it end? Who can afford to live in the county these days? Soon we will not be able to maintain our homes.

  25. Emily says:

    It’s chump change when you read the 100 million shortfall for water! When you start talking those ridiculous numbers just shut the system down as no one can pay further increases and nobody is going to buy or build in serviced areas. It’s a County issue not a service area issue.

  26. Susan says:

    Quinte News article does indicate a new system is 1-2 million. And $450,000 repair is not chump change.

  27. Gary says:

    I know what the article says and I also know they were reporting to implement a new system was 1-2 million dollars! 2 multi million $$ firehalls, a $1,000,000 new aerial ladder truck and now comeback with this. It’s not sustainable. If many can’t pay the light bill and the out of control water bill how do they dig down for all this? It’s just craziness the demands placed on the taxpayer.

  28. Joe says:

    Gary the news article clearly states an estimate of $450,000
    to upgrade the fire department communications system.

    If a firefighter cannot communicate a mayday call and is killed inside
    a burning house because no one heard his call for help, surely the legal
    bills would cost much more than the upgrade of a communications

  29. Gary says:

    I can’t believe a communications system for Prince Edward Fire Dep’t in this day an age could cost 1-2 million! Sheer lunacy.

  30. Argyle says:

    Evidently the fire department has an acquisition and spending weakness,new halls, new trucks and now a new communications system. All these items are million dollar plus expenditures. Taxpayers value the fire protection offered by the department, but like policing, costs to sustain these are starting to become exorbitant.

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