WALLINGFORD — A new, taller radio tower is scheduled to be installed at the former Cook Hill Firehouse as part of a multi-million dollar, town-wide emergency radio system upgrade.
Representatives from the police and fire departments will be available during an open house 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the firehouse, 29 Hall Road, for residents to learn about the upgrade and ask questions about public safety.
The old firehouse will be the main site for the new radio system.
“This improvement will combine fire, police, Board of Education, and the administration of the public works and public utilities divisions onto one system,” Wright said in a statement, “for ease of interoperability and improved public safety response.”
The Town Council approved $6.2 million in bonding for improvements to the town-wide radio system in December 2017 after the police and fire departments obtained a bid waiver two months earlier to purchase a Motorola radio system.
The total price of the system is $7.69 million, but the town received $1.9 million in discounts from Motorola, bringing the price down to about $5.8 million, according to a memo Wright sent to the mayor in December 2017.
The $6.2 million includes ancillary costs for an additional radio channel and radio site improvements, according to Wright's memo.
Wright said Monday the radio towers will be installed by the end of the month or early February, weather depending, and that foundations for the towers are complete.
While the tower at police headquarters, 135 N. Main St., will be replaced with a tower that is identical in height, the tower at the former Cook Hill firehouse will be replaced with a tower that is taller than the one there now.
“This increase in height is necessary for the components on the new tower to ‘see’ the components on several other tower locations,” Wright said in a statement.
The old radio system “just aged out,” Wright said. “Motorola would no longer write service agreements, and informed us they would not manufacture parts any longer, so we expected this.”
The new system is expected to last 20 to 30 years, he said. The switch to the new system won’t be until late summer.
Wallingford Public Schools Superintendent Salvatore Menzo said Tuesday the new radios will be able to augment the communication with the schools, providing “another layer of support to the overall security picture.”
“It’s just so much more efficient,” said Menzo, who will have his own radio and channels to talk to police and to school staff, whether he’s in the office or out visiting a school or in the community.
The new radio system is not directly connected to the crisis management system Sielox, which the Town Council approved a bid waiver for the school district to purchase in September 2018.
Sielox integrates the school’s panic buttons so police are notified and have access to school cameras when the buttons are pushed.
“Sielox basically gives the police access to an infrared map of where the situation is occurring,” Menzo said, “and it allows all of our teachers to report in.”