A communications upgrade for Eddy County Fire and Rescue (ECFR) from the State of New Mexico allowed greater and extended emergency radio coverage across the county and state, said Chief Joshua Mack.
The Eddy County Board of County Commissioner’s approved a $6.9 million agreement between the County and the New Mexico Department of Information Technology (DoIT) Sept. 7 to join the Statewide Digital Trunked Radio (DTRS).
Renee Narvaiz, DoIT spokesperson said DTRS is a consolidated state-wide public safety radio communications system, hosted by DoIT and its partners that is currently being deployed.
“DTRS is a $170 Million project being funded thus far by capital appropriation. Thirty-nine million dollars has been appropriated for the project since fiscal year 2019 and the project is planned for completion in 2027. It exists to provide high quality, high coverage interoperable radio communications to state and participating local, federal, and tribal agencies,” she said.
Narvaiz said federal, state and local agencies across New Mexico subscribed to DTRS.
In a memo to commissioners, Mack said Eddy County received a credit of $1.3 million from DoIT for radio fees.
“These funds will be used toward our $20 per radio per month cost,” Mack said.
He said the new system allowed Eddy County access to statewide communications, the memo indicated.
“Eddy County benefits by gaining access to the statewide system that will increase our interoperability with other agencies that are a part of the statewide system and still allows us the ability to communicate with other local agencies that haven’t joined the state system as of now,” Mack said.
According to the agreement between the County and DoIT, the State operates a centralized public safety radio communications system. DTRS provides radio service and dispatch operating consoles to state government and tribal agencies.
Towers and shelters at Eddy County communication sites in Hope, Loving, Queen and east of Artesia are part of DTRS plan, the agreement stated.
Cost for installation of radio repeater sites and line-of-sight microwave relay systems at the Eddy County locations was $3.9 million, the agreement indicated.
Implementation costs for the sites and relay systems was $1.3 million, read the agreement between the State of New Mexico and Eddy County.
Two Carlsbad communications facilities owned by the State of New Mexico would be part of the DTRS.
Narvaiz said the system provides a common platform for communications making cooperation at large events quickly achievable.
“One example of this is the recent officer involved shootings in Albuquerque, where the New Mexico State Police, Bernalillo County Sheriff, Albuquerque Police, U.S. Marshals Office, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (and Explosives) and Albuquerque Ambulance were able to arrive on scene and instantly communicate with one another,” she said.
Narvaiz said Eddy County is working to add six DTRS sites to the network which will provide coverage in the County.
“This portion of the DTRS project is being funded directly by Eddy County, and as such the county is receiving a service credit for DTRS service as consideration for its investment,” she said.
“While the radio equipment and some sites are owned by Eddy County, management, maintenance and upkeep of the system will be provided by the State Department of Information Technology.”
Mack said the State would handle maintenance for communications equipment involved in the daily operations of the system.
“This alone saves Eddy County over $150,000 annually in maintenance costs,” he said.
Mack said Eddy County would save money in the long run and there was opportunity for growth for ECFR’s system.
Narvaiz said development of Eddy County’s portion of the system could start in early 2022.
Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at [email protected] or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.