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NYS announces $6 million for Allegany County emergency communications

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Sheriff Cicirello resolution approved by Public Safety Committee

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Governor Kathy Hochul today announced more than $62 million has been awarded to 14 counties through the Statewide Interoperable Communications Grant targeted program to strengthen emergency communications and interoperability infrastructure used by local first responders. The program, administered by the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, provides funding to enhance public safety through improving and modernizing infrastructure, addressing communications deficiencies, implementing national interoperability channels, and boosting regional connectivity between counties and systems.

“When disaster strikes, New York must be ready. This grant funding is critical to modernizing our emergency communication systems to ensure that our brave first responders have the resources and data they need to keep the community and themselves safe during an emergency,” Governor Hochul said. “Keeping New Yorkers safe is my top priority and this program is key to improving public safety throughout Upstate New York.”

Interoperability gives first responders the ability to share information and data in real time during an emergency. The Statewide Interoperable Communications Grant (SICG) targeted program is a non-competitive grant program designed to improve the status of land mobile radio interoperability for New York’s public safety agencies. Funding is distributed to eligible applicants that have insufficient coverage or infrastructure on national interoperability channels or to improve shared systems. The maximum available award to each recipient is $6 million with only one application being accepted per county. Prior to issuing the awards, DHSES reviewed applications and provided technical assistance to applicants upon request.

New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, “Funding public safety partners is core to our agency’s mission. These grants will help Counties in upstate regions make upgrades to their emergency communications systems. New York’s first responders need the highest-quality tools and resources to ensure communications are effective throughout an emergency response.”

The 2022 SICG Targeted Grant will fund local projects that enhance interoperability though expansion of shared systems in the Capital Region, Central New York and the Southern Tier, and expansion of common radio channels in the Hudson Valley and Finger Lakes. Additional projects will strengthen the resiliency of key public safety communications systems.

Details about the grant and the equipment from last week’s Public Safety meeting in Belmont:

Sheriff Scott Cicirello requested a resolution authorizing an agreement with local towns, villages, fire districts, and college/university law enforcement to issue mobile and/or portable radios and their associated equipment so that all County emergency response agencies and their personnel, acting through their departments, can communicate with each other by means of the County-Wide Radio System.

The Sheriff’s Office is the recipient of New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Statewide Interoperable Communications Grant (SICG) funds. The purpose of awarding SICG funds is for the recipients to make necessary improvements and provide sustainability for Land Mobile Radio Systems (LMRs), implement and maintain components that support

interoperability, provide continuous training and exercise, and enhance emergency response to those in need.

The Sheriff’s Office purchased mobile, portable radio equipment using its SICG grant funds, and now desires to issue this equipment subject to the terms and conditions of the agreement, whose terms and conditions have been reviewed and approved by the County Attorney.

Sheriff Cicirello stated that this request encompasses the rollout of their portable radios and mobile radios for all emergency services within Allegany County.

Legislator Cyr thanked Sheriff Cicirello, the County Attorney, and Matt Evans for facilitating this as soon as possible.

Committee Chairman Havey stated that we can’t expect our emergency response personnel to do the best job without the best communications. I am delighted that we can move this forward.

Legislator Healy stated that he thought they had a previous agreement but maybe it has expired. Sheriff Cicirello responded that this is a new grant for new radios. Legislator Healy asked if this agreement meets this particular grant’s requirements, and Sheriff Cicirello replied, “yes.”

Legislator Barnes asked if the purpose of this agreement is related to resolving the situation with a lot of “dead spots” around the County. Sheriff Cicirello responded, no, this is specific to the radio equipment and that a lot of the infrastructure as far as the mobile units, the base stations, and the portables currently out there are becoming antiquated. This will update to newer and better equipment that E911 Radio Technician Matthew Evans can explain better. Mr. Evans stated that the new equipment will operate with the same frequencies with newer technology. He explained that the new technology will increase our capacity, enable them to split one frequency into two simultaneous transmissions, and allow everyone to talk on the entire system. County Administrator Knapp stated that the old radio agreements were for the fire service, and this is for law enforcement, which requires different agreements, different people, and different radio technology.

Legislator Ricci asked if West Clarksville received what they needed to be able to talk with McKean County. Mr. Evans stated that McKean County requested a single programming for every one of their radios, including fire, EMS, and law enforcement. Mr. Evans stated that they gave McKean County permission to use Allegany County’s interop frequency, which is supposed to be in every single radio in the County for fire, EMS, highway, and law enforcement. Legislator Ricci stated that he understood that the West Clarksville Fire Chief needed two different radios so he could talk to his people and the interop channel. Mr. Evans stated that if he wants to have separate radios he absolutely can, but they are now able to move the whole incident to one frequency with all their units. Mr. Evans stated that this is a piece of the Public Safety Interoperability Communications Grant that stipulates we have one frequency to be able to talk with all agencies. Legislator Healy asked who will maintain the radios. Mr. Evans responded that the portable radios will have five-year accidental damage coverage. County Administrator Knapp stated that this is essentially a loan of equipment that remains in County inventory under the grant, and then we loan them out. She stated there was also a purchase made last year of asset management software to allow the Sheriff’s Office to do a good job of keeping track of and maintaining the radios. Mr. Evans also stated that the new system technology will enable them to program and update the radios over the air when changes are needed for our system as well as neighboring systems. The request was approved on a motion by Legislator Healy, seconded by Legislator Cyr, and carried.

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