SCHUMER: WYOMING COUNTY FIRE AND EMERGENCY SERVICES COMMUNICATIONS ARE DELAYED BECAUSE FIRST RESPONDERS CANNOT GAIN ACCESS TO RADIO FREQUENCIES WITHOUT CANADIAN APPROVAL – URGES FEDS TO GO TO BAT FOR WYOMING COUNTY & BREAK THROUGH RED TAPE THAT HAS HELD UP APPROVAL PROCESS
Due to Wyoming County’s Close Proximity to Canada, Fire & Emergency Services Must Gain Approval for Emergency Frequency, But Canadian Government Has Put Up Bureaucratic Hurdles to Hinder Process for Years
Schumer Says Not Having High Frequency Radio Service Could Continue to Endanger Emergency Response and Lives If Wyoming County First Responders – Urges U.S. State Department & FCC To Work With Canadian Officials To Reach An Agreement ASAP
Schumer: Cut Through The White Noise and Get Wyoming County First Responders The Frequencies They Need To Communicate
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the U.S. State Department and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to work with Canadian officials to secure the necessary approvals for radio frequencies for Wyoming County first responders. Schumer explained that, due to Wyoming County’s close proximity to Canada, first responders must get approval from the Canadian government for their new radio frequencies. For over three years Wyoming County first responders have been working with Canadian officials to secure the rights to use Very High Frequency (VHF) radio frequencies for fire and EMS communications. However, each time they have submitted their request they have been denied by the Canadian government. Schumer requested that the State Department and the FCC intervene, work with their Canadian counterparts, and negotiate an agreement that would allow Wyoming County first responders to utilize VHF radio frequencies for essential emergency communications as soon as possible.
“Wyoming County first responders are the first line of defense for the community and they deserve the resources and support to do their jobs to the best of their ability; and in order for them to function efficiently and effectively, they need access to these radio frequencies. But time after time, the Canadian government has put up bureaucratic hurdles and a sea of red tape to prevent Wyoming County’s fire and EMS services from accessing necessary radio frequencies. That’s why I am urging the State Department and the FCC to work with the Canadian government to allow Wyoming County to access these necessary radio frequencies,” said Schumer.
Schumer said that Wyoming County first responders have applied on multiple occasions to access VHF radio channels that would allow fire and EMS communicators to share vital information and respond quickly to distress calls, but each time they have been denied by the Canadian government. Schumer said this limits the communication channels first responders can use and prevents them from doing their jobs effectively. Given the numerous bureaucratic hurdles, Schumer is requesting the State Department and FCC’s intervention on the issue. In fact, Wyoming secured a grant for $1.8 million dollars to pay for new radios and tower equipment, but because Canada has yet to permit access the frequency needed, the project has been severely delayed. The project will put a new radio in every fire/EMS unit in the county and allow complete interoperability with all aspects of public safety in Wyoming County.
Given it’s close proximity to Canada, Wyoming County has to go through the Canadian government to access frequencies given its proximity to the country. Canada has an extensive review process to determine which frequencies it will license and how those frequencies will be used. If an application to access the frequencies is denied three times, which is the case for Wyoming County, an On Air Test (OAT) must be conducted. The OAT requires the Canadian government to measure the frequency being used by the applicant to determine if it is compatible with their broadcast standards. The FCC monitors the OAT to verify watts in cooperation with the Canadian government. Wyoming County has attempted to conduct an OAT, however given the Canadian governments’ bureaucratic process and shortage of FCC officials available to administer tests, the process have been delayed.
Schumer has requested the State Department and FCC find an amicable solution that would allow Wyoming County first responders to have access to the necessary frequencies while still remaining within the parameters of Canada’s broadcast frequency guidelines and regulations. The time sensitive nature in securing frequencies for the first responders gives the issue a profound level of urgency. Despite this urgency, the prolonged review process and subsequent OAT tests have made it very difficult for first responders to properly communicate with one another. Expediting this process and allowing American and Canadian officials to work together would be of great help to first responders.
A copy of Schumer’s letter to Secretary Kerry and Chairman Wheeler is available below:
Dear Secretary Kerry and Chairman Wheeler,
I am writing to ask for your immediate assistance with an important issue in my home state of New York. In Wyoming County, first responders have been working diligently over the last several years to improve their emergency communications. They secured significant grant funding, which will expire next year, in order to complete this project. However they have run into a substantial bureaucratic hurdle in securing Very High Frequency (VHF) radio frequencies for the county to operate Fire and EMS communications. Wyoming County is located extremely close to the Canadian border, and because of the county’s proximity to Canada, they are forced to get approval from the Canadian government for their new radio frequency. Unfortunately, the county has run up against repeated roadblocks and cannot even get the Canadian government to schedule an On-Air-Test (OAT), which must be done in coordination with the FCC. Wyoming County has secured a grant for $1.8 million dollars to pay for new radios and tower equipment, but because Canada has yet to permit access the frequency needed, the project has been severely delayed. The project will put a new radio in every fire/EMS unit in the county and allow complete interoperability with all aspects of public safety in Wyoming County.
It is my understanding that traditionally, the FCC has taken the laboring oar with respect to U.S.-Canadian frequency coordination. However the time sensitive need of Wyoming County and the potential effect that securing an emergency frequency can have is sufficiently important that I believe that the State Department should intervene to help ensure a successful result. I have previously urged the State Department and the FCC to work together to deal with cross-border frequency issues; I still firmly believe that the decisions about coordination between the U.S. and Canada will affect numerous U.S. citizens who live near the border and should be made with the benefit of the State Department’s international negotiations expertise.
I would also ask that the FCC continue their work with Wyoming County to ensure that once any remaining issues between the county and Canada are resolved the county is then able to quickly and efficiently acquire and set up their frequency communications.
I hope both the State Department and the Commission will work together to resolve this issue quickly. Thank you for your assistance in this matter and I look forward to continuing our work together to ensure the availability of emergency communications both in New York State and nationwide.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
Previous Article Next Article