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December 23. 2012 10:20PM

Nashua expected to vote on new radio system

NASHUA - Aldermen are expected to vote Wednesday on a proposal to spend about $1.6 million to implement the first phase of a citywide radio communications upgrade.

City officials have until the end of the year to approve the contract agreement with Motorola, which has offered a significant savings if a deal can be reached within the week.

Aldermen are being asked to approve the first phase of an extensive plan to upgrade the network infrastructure of the city's radio communications system. The board will vote on whether to authorize a bond of up to $1.6 million at its Wednesday meeting, which begins at 7:30 p.m. at Nashua City Hall.

The aging radio system is about 12 years old. Nearly 1,000 radios, including handheld radios and automobile-installed radios, are used by various city departments such as police, fire, public works and schools.

Bill Mansfield, radio systems manager for the city, said earlier this month that the existing network infrastructure is operating on 1990s' technology that is obsolete and non-repairable.

During a public hearing on Dec. 13, Mansfield presented the Board of Aldermen a proposed five-phase plan to remedy the aging radio communications system.

He said that on occasion, city dispatchers lose the ability to receive emergency panic button alerts from firefighters or police officers, forcing them to use backup radio equipment that is not as useful.

Not only is it a danger to firefighters and police, but the public as well when communications break down, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said at the time, noting that this can be very frightening to emergency workers.

"Our communications system has shut down on about a half a dozen occasions in the past eight months," the mayor said.

Phase one includes replacement of the entire radio system network, while phases two through five involve replacing various radio channels and purchasing several new mobile and portable radios.

"Many of the radios are not manufactured anymore, and we can't even get parts for them," said Alderman Brian McCarthy, board president.

He is suggesting that aldermen approve the first phase of the radio communications project now, as Motorola has offered the city about a $500,000 savings on some of the infrastructure components if a deal can be closed by the end of the year.

khoughton@newstote.com


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