09.17.15

SCHUMER ANNOUNCES: AFTER 4-YEAR LONG STRUGGLE, WYOMING COUNTY FIRST RESPONDERS FINALLY CLEAR LAST HURDLE & GET GREEN LIGHT FROM FAA TO USE INTEROPERABLE RADIO SYSTEM FOR RAPID RESPONSE; CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY WILL ALLOW FIRE, POLICE, EMS, 911, HIGHWAY DEPT RESPONDERS TO COMMUNICATE ON SAME RADIO CHANNEL STARTING OCT. 1ST

In August, Schumer Visited Wyoming County Fire Training Center & Urged FAA To Make Final Determination on New Joint Radio System For Wyoming County First Responders – Schumer Already Successfully Secured Approvals From U.S. State Department & FCC For First Responder Radio Frequency

 FAA Was Final Sign-Off Needed To Help Coordinate Emergency Services – After Schumer’s Push, FAA Green Lights Proposed Radio Tower Site Antennae That Will Allow Frequency to Connect All Area First Responders; FAA Approval Was Final Hurdle To Clear 

Schumer: Wyoming County First Responders Will Be Able To Use New Frequency Beginning October 1st

 

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has given the final approval that will allow Wyoming County first responders to communicate on the same radio frequency. For nearly four years, Wyoming County emergency services have tried to access a Very High Frequency (VHF) that was under the jurisdiction of the Canadian government, due to its close proximity to the border. In May of this year, Schumer intervened and successfully urged the U.S. State Department and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to work with their Canadian counterparts to secure the VHF channel for Wyoming County’s use. Once the Canadian government announced Wyoming County first responders could use the frequency, the FAA needed to conduct its own tests to ensure the radio tower used by local emergency services would not interfere with air navigation. Today Schumer announced that the FAA has issued a “no hazard determination” of the 500-foot Wethersfield broadcast tower antennae in Wyoming County, following Schumer’s push. Schumer said this will allow Wyoming County first responders to begin using the VHF channel beginning on October 1st.

“After a four-year long struggle, Wyoming County emergency responders will finally be able to access the high frequency radio channels that allow them to communicate in unison. This is a major victory for the men and women who put their lives on the line to safeguard their community. Whether it’s a search and rescue during a major snow event or saving lives during a fire or responding to a crime, they will finally be able to communicate effectively and coordinate their efforts in order to keep our communities safe,” said Schumer. “I remain committed to ensuring our first responders and law enforcement have the resources they need to continue saving lives and protecting their community.”

Schumer explained that Wyoming County first responders have worked for years to get a new, interoperable radio system that would allow the County’s Fire, EMS, Sheriff and Highway Departments, along with the New York State Police Department to communicate on one frequency. Schumer said that having all emergency services on the same radio frequency would better allow them to respond during emergencies and communicate effectively. Access to these VHF radio channels would allow fire, EMS, and other first responders to share vital information and react quickly to distress calls. Currently, radio communication systems in Wyoming County are not compatible; they operate on different platforms and are not accessible by a single radio. Therefore, any information must be relayed by the County’s 911 center. Fire and EMS responders do not have the ability to communicate directly with the law enforcement or County highway officials.

The new radio communications system would bring all Wyoming County resources onto the same operating frequencies, and provide them with the ability to communicate directly in an emergency situation. Schumer said this interaction is critical when units are being dispatched in emergency situations, when they are working in a search detail, or even during severe weather events, such as Western New York’s November storm last year, when first responders were desperately needed to work in concert with law enforcement. Schumer said a new system would allow emergency responders to have a dedicated frequency for all first responders as well as the 911 center, for complete interoperability.

In order to gain access to the VHF radio channels Wyoming County needed approval from the Canadian government, which has jurisdiction over the specific frequency requested. After repeatedly being denied approval from the Canadian government, Schumer intervened on Wyoming County’s behalf and asked the FCC and the State Department to work with their Canadian counterparts to secure usage of the VHF radio channels.

In May of this year, the Canadian government gave Wyoming County permission to use the VHF radio channels after determining the proposed sites Wyoming County wanted to build radio towers would not interfere with Canadian facilities. In August, Schumer pushed the FAA to make the next step by issuing a “no hazard determination” for the proposed Wethersfield broadcast tower antennae in Wyoming County in order to make this radio system a reality.

In order to issue a no hazard determination, the FAA had to conduct an airspace study of the area to ensure that the tower’s 500-foot antennae does not present a hazard to air navigation. In August, Schumer urged the FAA to expeditiously test and review this tower so it can render a decision on Wyoming County’s request for a no hazard determination. Schumer said this determination was one of the final remaining hurdles that the county’s first responders must overcome in order to improve their emergency communications capabilities.

After clearing this hurdle, Wyoming County first responders will be able to use the VHF radio channels beginning October 1st. This will allow all local emergency services to communicate with one another on the same frequency, rather than switch between channels. Schumer said this will ensure emergency services can respond to calls quickly and coordinate with their counterparts

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