By: BRIAN CALLAWAY (Fri, Jan/07/2005)
Bucks County commissioners approved a $221,000 deal Wednesday to continue filling "dead spots" in the county’s emergency radio system.
The county will lease space for antennas on a communications tower in Lower Makefield to boost radio reception for police, fire and ambulance personnel in parts of nearby Morrisville. The lease is with SpectraSite Communications Inc., based in Cary, N.C.
Stacey Martin, the county’s public information director, said Bucks will spend another $243,000 to actually install the equipment there.
The county has already set up new antennas in three other areas – Bensalem, Falls and Hilltown – and is working on three similar projects in Upper Bucks.
John Dougherty, Bucks’ emergency services director, said the new antennas are needed because there are parts of the county where emergency responders’ radio signals aren’t reliable.
He said the situation hasn’t caused any major problems, but is still a concern.
Steve Moran, director of public safety in Bensalem, agreed.
"There always is (worry) when the officer doesn’t have communication," he said. "That’s a serious concern to us and to the county."
In Bensalem, the county put a new antenna near the Neshaminy Mall, where officers have complained of difficulty getting radio signals.
Moran said officers haven’t had any problems since the new antenna was installed.
Martin said the county has already spent about $5.5 million on the radio project, which includes total costs for the completed projects and equipment for the planned ones.
The county is now trying to find a spot in Bridgeton to put new equipment to boost emergency reception along the river, she said.
It’s also planning two more sites in Upper Bucks, though she said the general locations haven’t been determined.
"They have to more scientifically evaluate where they are needed, based on development trends and (other factors)," she said.
Those sites should be located in the spring, she said.