Thursday, December 22, 2011

First Alarm letter 12.23.11

To: All Ulster County Emergency Services
From: Art Snyder
Date: December 23, 2011
Re: News and Information

Computer Aided Dispatch in the field – Several fire departments and EMS agencies are using CAD in the field (this is completely voluntary). If you are interested in participating in this program, there are security agreements that need to be executed and equipment that needs to be purchased by the local agency. Contact Steve or I for further information. As an extension of this program, some agencies are calling in to “terminate the alarm” when they clear a fire scene, or are available at the hospital. The dispatchers then clear all units and you can access your times directly from CAD.

Mutual Aid Charge backs – One Irene/Lee recovery issue that has not been resolved is the chargeback for mutual aid. In its purest form, mutual aid between fire departments is free. With the implementation of the NYS Fire Mobilization and Mutual Aid Plan during Irene and Lee, and the potential for FEMA reimbursement, several departments have received bills from out of county mutual aid departments. Even though much of this is reimbursable through FEMA, the local municipality (fire district) is still responsible for the 12 ½ % local share. Many of the statewide associations have taken issue with the chargeback, but at this point it isn’t going away. A department receiving a bill may try to bargain with the billing agency, asking them to accept the 75% federal share and the 12 ½ % state share, but discounting the local 12 ½ %.

Narrowbanding – The County has updated all applicable licenses in preparation for this FCC mandate. We have also issued a purchase order to modify our high band radio equipment to make it narrowband compliant. Early in 2012 we will issue an implementation schedule that will identify when and how the changeover will take effect.

Officers list / Equipment inventory – All fire and EMS organizations please find attached an officers list for 2012. Additionally, fire departments will find a CAD print out of the current inventory we show on file for your department. Either make corrections to this print out, or complete a new inventory form if you find it easier to start from scratch (also attached). Please complete these forms at your earliest convenience and return to my attention. Thank you.

Radio project – The most desirable bandwidth for our proposed system is VHF high. However, there are no frequencies available on a countywide basis. The next best option is UHF. Unfortunately, these frequencies are also in very short supply. Blue Wing is currently trying to negotiate the purchase of a sufficient number of frequencies from a current license holder. With respect to funding the system, the County Executive’s office was briefed on the program by Blue Wing on September 13; the Legislature was to hear the presentation on September 20 but asked us to postpone it until a later date. We are now waiting for the new Legislature to be seated. Once the Legislature is briefed, another meeting will be held for emergency services.

Best wishes for a safe and Happy New Year!