Eaton County officials today announced that the new public safety radio communications system is operational. According to 911 Director Michael Armitage, this $13.1 million investment will significantly improve critical, life-saving communications for decades to come, “this system is more dependable and will allow first responders to communicate with each other in the county, as well as with agencies outside the county.” The project includes five additional radio towers, 957 radios for first responders, 464 pagers for fire departments, and the integration of 39 outdoor warning sirens.
Representatives from public safety agencies have been involved in the planning for an upgraded system for several years. According to Sheriff Tom Reich, “This new radio system complete with additional towers, will bring a substantial improvement of radio coverage throughout Eaton County and help us better fulfill our mission of providing the very best public safety and services. Additionally, the stronger and clearer radio signal is vital to improving the safety of our deputies and of every law enforcement, fire, and EMS first responder in our county during the dangerous and life threatening incidents we respond to every day.” Delta Fire Chief Gregg Ginebaugh echoed those remarks, “Eaton County’s upgrade to the Michigan Public Safety Communications System, will enhance all agencies ability to communicate better with each other; provide better radio coverage within Eaton County, and deliver needed interoperability during all emergency incidents and events.
According to Armitage, the new system has been thoroughly tested over the last several months. “We have verified that the system works,” according to Armitage, “we have tested the radios in over 1,400 areas throughout the county and confirmed that the system has 98% indoor coverage. The system is performing better than projected, as the goal was 95% indoor coverage.”
The new project adds infrastructure to the Michigan Public Safety Communications System (MPSCS). According to Armitage, this partnership allows for better communication with agencies outside the county and also saves on costs as the county is benefiting from existing infrastructure already in place by the MPSCS, including two of their radio towers. According to MPSCS Director Brad Stoddard, “The Office of Michigan’s Public Safety Communications System (MPSCS) is proud of the continued and expanded partnership with Eaton County ensuring the most reliable, secure and interoperable communications for the first responders across the county.” He also noted that the partnership with Eaton County is modeled after the success demonstrated by the statewide public safety communications system for the past 23 years in communities across the state. “The public safety agencies in Eaton County will join 1,712 other first responder agencies already utilizing the system and leveraging the access to 254 communications tower sites statewide.” The additional towers in Eaton County for the MPSCS system are located in Charlotte, Delta Township, Hamlin Township, Sunfield Township, and Walton Township.
The project was funded through a $1.75 phone surcharge approved by voters in November of 2017. The project includes a 10 year warranty on equipment as well as a 10 year battery replacement program. The project commenced after approval by the board of commissioners in November of 2017. Eaton County Board of Commissioner Terrance Augustine stated, “Being the son and grandson of first responders, I know how important dependable communication is for the safety of our first responders and residents. This partnership with the State will provide state of the art equipment to those keeping our residents safe throughout all of Eaton County."