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Motorola offers Nashua a deal on new emergency radios

Union Leader Correspondent

May 07. 2013 10:26PM

NASHUA - In an effort to upgrade the city's obsolete and non-repairable portable emergency radios, officials are being presented with a proposed $1 million bond.

Bill Mansfield, radio systems manager for the city, approached the aldermanic Budget Review Committee on Tuesday requesting the purchase of nearly 300 new portable radios for all fire and police personnel.

The purchase, if approved by the full Board of Aldermen, would be part of a five-phase plan to remedy the aging radio communication system and existing network infrastructure that is operating on 1990s technology.

While the portable radio purchase was not originally expected to take place in the beginning of the five-year plan, Mansfield explained that an exceptional offer has been presented to the city by Motorola. An undisclosed agency outside of Nashua previously ordered 400 radios and then decided to upgrade to a different device. In response, Motorola reached out to Mansfield to offer the city the portable radios at a savings of about $500,000. About 293 of the 400 available radios will be purchased under the proposal, according to Mansfield, who is asking aldermen to support the initiative.

"That would outfit everyone in police and fire," said Mansfield, adding the radios include compatible speakers, microphones, batteries and chargers.

The recommended $1 million bond - a savings of about 50 percent for the radios - was supported by the aldermanic Budget Review Committee on Tuesday but will still need to be voted on by the full Board of Aldermen.

"This is a substantial savings to the city," said Mansfield, stressing the existing portable radios are about 13 years old. The life expectancy, he said, is around 10 years.

If the purchase is approved by city officials, Mansfield said he has a plan to utilize the old radios, but he would not disclose the idea, other than briefly mentioning the school district. Eventually, however, he said the radios will not operate under the new system.

Alderman David Deane urged Mansfield to find a way to utilize the old radios if feasible.

Overall, the five-year, citywide radio communication plan includes a price tag of just under $10 million.

A few months ago, aldermen approved spending about $1.6 million to implement the first phase of the citywide radio communications upgrade.

There are nearly 1,000 radios, including handheld radios and automobile radios, that are being used by various city departments such as police, fire, public works and schools.

Previously, Mansfield said city dispatchers occasionally lose the ability to receive emergency panic button alerts from firefighters or police officers, forcing them to use backup radio equipment.

Not only is it a danger to firefighters and police but the public as well when communications break down, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said earlier.

"Our communications system has shut down on about a half a dozen occasions in the past eight months," the mayor said last December.

Phase one includes replacement of the entire radio system network, while phases two through five involve replacing various radio channels and purchasing several new mobile and portable radios.

However, because of the newest offer by Motorola, the portable radio purchase will move up in the five-year plan if approved by aldermen.

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