Marshfield officials presented with radio communication plan
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – Marshfield officials have been presented with a four-year plan for upgrading its radio communication system for police and fire personnel — to the tune of more than three-quarters of a million dollars. That’s what officials from the Green Bay-based Baycom Corporation presented to the Marshfield Common Council on May 22.
The issue came to light last year when the Marshfield Police Department said their portable radios were not working from certain areas of the city. The council responded by taking $190,000 initially earmarked in the 2018 budget for the Marshfield Area Pet Shelter, and putting it toward 45 new police radios.
Scott Johnson of Baycom identified an even bigger problem – the city’s tower infrastructure for transmitting radios calls is not adequate, and that should be the focus, versus new portable radios.
“Replacing the portables, you would see minimal change in the current issues you are having,” he said. “The real advantage would be to use the funding to look at a simulcast system, add tower sites – it would make more of an immediate impact for the first responders.”
Johnson has developed a plan which utilizes the 45 new police radios in this year’s budget; the plan calls for additional transmitting towers. Baycom Engineering Manager Dave Steinhoff told the council that adding the new tower infrastructure is key to developing a successful emergency radio system.
“The closer you are to the tower, the better coverage you are going to (have,)” Steinhoff said. “So, by adding in a system that has more than one tower, you are automatically going to get a gain out of whatever portables you are using, and that is why we are stressing that the infrastructure side is the best first move…”
Under the plan, the city would be adding three communication towers, to go with the single tower Marshfield is currently using; that would cost just over $132,000, and would be done this year using the $190,000 already set aside. The new plan also calls for replacing half of the portable radios next year, and the other half in 2020. Baycom is also proposing a fourth tower site in 2021, at a cost of $44,000. The Fire Department would also be brought on to that system, at a cost of $152,000.
The total cost of the Baycom proposal is nearly $765,000. There was no council action on the presentation.