23 June 2015
Applause broke out after the vote from fire and rescue volunteers who packed the courtroom in support of the radio system.
Before the vote, chief of Lake Monticello Volunteer Rescue Squad Joe Orsolini urged the Board to approve the contract. Calling the current radio system “dangerous,” Orsolini delivered an impassioned speech in which he told supervisors it is merely a matter of time before a firefighter, EMT, or deputy is killed in an emergency situation because the radio system prevents the first responder from being able to call for backup. “We need a new radio system,” he said. “It’s not a negotiable item. It’s a necessity.”
Only 35 percent of Fluvanna County is covered by the current radio system, said Cheryl Elliott, emergency services coordinator, which means that in 65 percent of the county, emergency responders have spotty or even nonexistent ability to communicate with each other or to ask for backup, especially inside buildings.
“This [radio system] is the lifeblood of our responders in the community,” said Elliott, “of being able to communicate with one another and also back to dispatch. The lack of radio coverage puts our responders in danger on a daily basis.”
In what Elliott called “momentous progress,” supervisors approved a contract that will outfit Fluvanna with a radio system providing 95 percent coverage throughout the county as measured inside residential buildings, as well as three miles outside the county.
The system, which will have seven towers initially but can handle up to 14, will be what’s known as a “trunking” system. In a conventional system, such as what Fluvanna has currently, only one person can talk at a time on any given channel. And since the sheriff’s office functions on one channel and fire and rescue function primarily on another channel, there are often periods of time in which the channels are in use and other personnel must wait for a free moment.
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