In a sweeping $5.3 million upgrade, Colonial Heights is preparing to invest in improved emergency radios, allowing communication between a greater number of first responders across the region.
The upgrade is in the planning stages, and was presented in the City's budget proposed for fiscal year 2013-2014. In 2016 Motorola will stop supplying the parts for current radios, making long-term maintenance impossible.
In an interview Thursday, Lt. Eric Albert of the Colonial Heights Fire Department said the current network is about to meet the end of its 10-15 year life span. The new radios are designed to add greater efficiency and precision to emergency communications.
"GPS is probably the most important feature," Albert said. "The radios can also send data back to our communications center in real time, so we can keep track of where people are."
Colonial Heights shares a radio system with Richmond, Chesterfield, Henrico and Hanover. The cities and counties form the Capital Regional Radio System, but Dinwiddie and Prince George have their own emergency networks.
With the next generation radios, emergency response teams in Colonial Heights will be able to seamlessly communicate with Dinwiddie and Prince George.
"The model we're testing now also has a digital display that lights up, so firefighters can receive information, and read it clearly at the scene," Albert said.
If approved, the budget will allocate $150,000 in the coming months to design the new network for Colonial Heights. The radios would enter full operation around 2016 or 2017.
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