Q A year or so ago, area fire departments all were going to get new radios. Since that time, most of the local municipalities have been issued new radios. The Boom Bay Volunteer Fire Department is still waiting for its radios. What's the holdup in Winnebago County?
A Some of the larger police and fire departments in Winnebago County were given new digital Motorola radios late last year, but that was only for testing their functionality and coverage. Those radios have been returned to the county for final programming and will be among the 1,300 mobile and portable radios that Winnebago County will issue to emergency personnel within the next two months.
The Boom Bay Volunteer Fire Department was not chosen for the testing. Instead, the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department checked the radios in the northwest part of the county.
"They should not feel slighted," Capt. Cherilyn Eischen said. "There was a thorough testing done. We just could not get all of the radios to every single agency."
Eischen said the rollout of radios to emergency personnel would begin in late January and continue through February.
"It will probably take to March 1 before we're fully functional on the new system and everybody has their radios," she said.
Winnebago County budgeted $10.5 million for the new 800-megahertz radio system. It replaces an analog VHF (very high frequency) system and complies with regulations issued by the Federal Communications Commission.
Eischen said Winnebago County will operate the digital and analog radio systems simultaneously until June to prevent any lapse in communication.
"The new system's working great, but just in case," she said.
Outagamie County also will switch to an 800-MHz radio system this year.
The county budgeted nearly $8 million for the new system and for radios for the sheriff's department. Unlike Winnebago County, it did not purchase radios for all public safety agencies in the county.
Capt. Mike Jobe said Outagamie County's system would be operational by July.