JOHNSTOWN - Fulton County may join a newly proposed Adirondack Regional Interoperable Communications Consortium, which aims to improve wireless public safety and emergency communications in nine counties.
County Civil Defense-Fire Coordinator Allan Polmateer last week gained permission from the Board of Supervisors' Public Safety Committee to have Fulton County sign a memorandum of understanding to participate in the consortium. The full board would have to give final approval July 9 for the agreement, which Polmateer said wouldn't cost the county anything.
Polmateer said he has met with emergency managers from Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties and recently received the proposed memorandum.
"I'm always guarded when I get several pages of a document which I haven't had a chance to read," said board Chairman Michael F. Gendron.
Polmateer said the effort, which he recommends, is aimed at improving radio communications for Fulton County.
"It will help us get support funds to link onto Saratoga's new system and a lot of other towers," he said.
Polmateer said the agreement includes nine counties and is being executed "for the sole purpose of developing a common communications network." The counties are: Fulton, Montgomery, Hamilton, Saratoga, Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Warren and Washington.
A "seamless" wireless communications system for government public safety and services agencies would be sought for first responders, Polmateer said.
He said there would be a pot of $75 million in state funding in November available for the consortium.
Through the consortium, Polmateer said Fulton County can continue to use some of its new equipment, but can also make funding requests for new equipment. He said the consortium efforts could go a long way to negating communication "dead spots" in the county where radio transmissions are silent.
"The majority of this right now is to get [funding for] microwave and module links," Polmateer said. "It would be so you could basically use everyone else's towers."
He said funding also could be used to meet narrow band requirements or if the Fulton County Sheriff's Department wanted to install new computers and work stations.
With Hamilton County and other counties wanting to hook into the consortium, Fulton County authorities would have much greater broadcast and radio-receiving capabilities, he said.
"We'll be able to talk all the way to the Canadian border," Polmateer said.
County Administrative Officer Jon Stead told the committee the proposed memorandum of understanding only plans a communications network "for a region," and more details will come later.
Stead said Fulton County has come a long way in recent years improving its communications network. He said the county is in "pretty good shape," and the agreement is "really for future improvements."
Polmateer said the new consortium will be part of a new Region 3 communications network.
"This keeps us in line with everything else," he said.
Michael Anich can be reached at email@example.com.