Grant to aid Davis crisis control with emergency communications antenna

May 9 2012 - 10:22pm

FARMINGTON -- In preparing for the next hurricane-force windstorm, or any disaster like it, the Davis County Sheriff's Office is looking to place an 800 MHz repeater antenna to ensure emergency communications lines remain open throughout the county.

The sheriff's office has received a $10,000 grant from the Department of Public Safety to install an antenna on an existing radio tower in the south end of the county, Undersheriff Kevin Fielding said.

On Tuesday, the county commission accepted the grant that will require the county to provide a 20 percent match, or about $2,000.

Layton has received a similar grant to place an 800 MHz antenna in its police mobile command post to serve the north end of the county, said Kevin Rose, who is with the State Department of Technology Services.

The antenna is about 10 inches long and 5 inches wide.

The county is currently negotiating with North Salt Lake to place its antenna, which will have no environmental impact, on an existing 30-foot tower near Eaglewood Golf Course.

The additional conventional repeater antenna, which provides a frequency band for emergency personnel to communicate, is "a bit of redundancy" because there are other antenna towers in place, Fielding said.

But during the Dec. 1 windstorm, the frequency band system in the south end of the county was taxed, an occurrence compounded by power outages in the north end of the county the same day, Sheriff's Lt. Brad Wilcox said.

"It adds a level of redundancy and will help mitigate problems in the future when the current system is overwhelmed," Rose said of the antenna, which is to be placed by the end of June.

During the windstorm, almost all emergency agencies were using the same band frequency, and this project will address those capacity issues, he said.

Having more capacity is also important because the same frequency is a common channel that would also be used by national responders in the event of a larger disaster, Rose said.

"It's for all of public safety," Fielding said. "(The windstorm) brought to light a lot of little things that you don't think about until something happens."

The windstorm that ripped through the county uprooted large mature trees, knocked out power and caused about $4.1 million in damage to public property. That total does not include damage the storm caused to private property.

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