Sequoyah County in Oklahoma wants to identify dead zones in their two-way radio communications system for first responders. That’s why the Sequoyah County 911 office is documenting every tower in the county — to locate and figure out solutions to improve communications between departments and within each department.
County 911 Director David Slaughter tells the Sequoyah County Times, “When we upgraded our radio dispatch a few months ago, our testing showed we were putting out a good signal from this office.”
However they’ve had problems on the receiving end. “Many of our departments would be at a fire and a guy on one side of a building could not talk to another firefighter on the other side of the fire.”
Firefighters realize terrain is part of the problem. “We all know we are not going to get the same signal strength at all locations. But we need to know what we can do to make it the best we can get,” said Slaughter.
He has met with several two-way radio vendors and fire chiefs; vendors suggested an engineering survey using computer modeling to include existing towers and terrain will help locate both good and bad reception areas, according to the Times. The effort will include every existing, licensed tower and determine its coverage area.
Slaughter estimates the survey would cost somewhere between $4,000 to $7,000 and intends to make the most efficient use of the funds. The county will also apply for federal communications grants to help pay for the survey.
The results will show the 911 office where it’s better to build a new tower or tweak an existing site. Slaughter intends to have another meeting with fire departments, towns and other entities to ask them to help pay for the survey.