More info needed

Published: 2/25/2019 9:15:29 AM
More info needed

I wish to provide some clarification on the recent article about the Franklin County Emergency Communications System (FCECS) and the debate about whether to rebuild it, or migrate to the State 800MHzCoMIRS network.

Given how extensively I was quoted, I wish the article had pointed out that I am, along with many other officials, deeply skeptical about joining CoMIRS.  We need much more information.

It was suggested CoMIRS could be the cheaper option. That is speculative.  Even proponents acknowledge it could also be more expensive.  Lacking firm figures from Boston, we don’t know.  Also unknown: Who will pay to equip our personnel with expensive new radios needed to transition? How long will migration take?

The article states rebuilding FCECS was estimated between $8 million and $10 million.  Actually, it’s $5 million to $10 million spread over 20 plus communities; outside funding could reduce local costs.

Unfortunately, until recently, there wasn’t much advocacy for such funding because Franklin Regional Council of Governments leadership was focused primarily on CoMIRS.

Coverage is a serious concern for our emergency services. Dan Nietsche is quoted stating 800MHz can provide equal coverage to 450MHz.  Yet he also implied, correctly, that 800MHz is less effective in hilly terrain.  If Dan is in a position to know performance will be equal, perhaps he can show us the coverage maps FRCOG admitted last month they didn’t yet have.

Finally, I was quoted saying Hawley will make a decision based on the direction the county takes, what our responders need, and what we can afford. That quote lacked context. I was not talking about migrating to CoMIRS vs. rebuilding FCECS. I was discussing pursuing a possible supplemental VHF system, either locally or with other partners, to address coverage issues if FRCOG went with 800MHz.  Obvious considerations include costs and what additional testing reveals about CoMIRS coverage.

Hussain A. Hamdan

Chairman, Hawley Board of Selectmen

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