By Tia Lynn Lecorchick Managing Editor
The Morgan County Fire Department is preparing to enact Phase II of the 911-System Upgrade, which will cost approximately $100,000, and is set to be completed in the next six months. Fire Chief Mark Melvin presented Phase II to the Morgan County Board of Commissioners at the Feb. 17 meeting.
The goal of the Phase II upgrade is to install better radio coverage for firemen and policemen. Two antennas will be erected on top of water towers, one in Rutledge and one south of Buckhead, to increase radio coverage. Phase I of the 911 System Upgrade took place nearly a year ago with the addition of a Very High Frequency (VHF) digital radio system.
The Morgan County Emergency 911 implemented the upgraded advanced communication system, with a $379,000 budget, on Mar. 19, 2014.The new system is a Tracked Turbo high brand radio system from Motorola Solutions.
Phase I vastly improved radio coverage in the county for public safety, but did not achieve total radio coverage. “We have been on the new system for approximately a year now and it’s much better than what we had before,” said Melvin. “But we have recently found a couple of areas that do not have the coverage our officers and fire fighters need,” said Morgan County Fire Chief Mark Melvin.
“We will be close to 100 percent radio coverage for public safety in Morgan County,” said Michael Lamar, county manager. “Anywhere that you have fire fighters and police working, you need to make sure they have the ability to communicate. If we have gaps, we need to close them, even if they are relatively small gaps.”
Lamar hopes the antennas are built and working by July 1, 2015. Funding for the project will most likely come out of Special Purpose Local Option Sale Tax (SPLOST) funds. Melvin has been proud of the continual upgrades to the 911-System in Morgan County.
“This new system…greatly increased radio coverage for all Public Safety agencies for Morgan County, including Morgan County Fire, Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, entities in the City of Madison including Fire and Police, and National EMS will all benefit from the new radio system,” said Mark Melvin, fire chief for Morgan County Emergency Services, last year.