MOUNT VERNON — The coming federally mandated deadline for safety forces to complete conversion to narrow-band communications loomed over the meeting of the 9-1-1 Board meeting Wednesday.
During his regular report, Director Richard Dzik said he had submitted questions to the board steering committee about the move. The questions came up in the context of plans Dzik has for cross-training dispatchers at the city and county call centers and standardizing their operating guidelines.
The issue also came up in the discussion of a request from Central Ohio Joint Fire District Chief Joe Porter about whether the 9-1-1 Board would help pay for seven repeaters the department needs for its vehicles to maintain communications. The repeaters cost $2,174 each. The question arose, not only whether the 9-1-1 Board can afford to help local departments with such purchases, but whether the provision in the board’s by-laws applies to such equipment purchases.
Board Chairwoman Teresa Bemiller said the steering committee will be meeting this month and will have recommendations for the full board about the path they want to take for the narrow-band conversion as well as what kind of equipment purchases the board can, or should, help with.
Porter said he would prefer a yes or no answer to the request so he could proceed with other possibilities for funding if no help is forthcoming from the 9-1-1 Board.
The board postponed consideration of the request until the steering committee submits its recommendation.
Mount Vernon Assistant Fire Chief Chris Menapace seemed to be expressing some frustration with progress on the narrow-band issue as he pointed out that decisions need to be made. We’re close to being in an emergency situation he noted, as the deadline for the conversion is Jan. 1, 2013, and it will take six to nine months to install whatever systems the board decides to use.