Establishing communications

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first_imgGLENDALE – Two cops from different departments are around the corner from each other, searching for the same gunman. But they can’t communicate because their radio systems work on different frequencies. That’s the worst-case scenario public safety officials are trying to avoid, especially in a terrorist attack, earthquake or fire. So Glendale has taken the lead in getting the problem fixed by trying to get Los Angeles-area departments on one communication system. The city spent $16 million to upgrade to the Interagency Communications Interoperability System, which it brought online in 2002. Because Glendale already made the initial investment in the master site, nine other cities joined the system for half the cost or less, allowing officers and firefighters to talk to agencies within and outside their borders. “The whole point is that we’re all on the same frequency and we can all speak to each other,” said Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian, who in September traveled to Washington, D.C., with Mayor Rafi Manoukian to ask for money to improve the system. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals Glendale officials are also looking to involve Los Angeles and the county. The ICIS frequency has its limits, however, and adding bigger agencies would require more investment in equipment to expand its capacity, officials said. “It’s a challenge, …” Najarian said. “We are really trying to lobby not only our lawmakers in Washington but also our neighboring cities to show them that ICIS is working. And as we grow, we’re hoping that we get a snowball effect and that other groups join us.” Burbank and Beverly Hills are among the eight cities on the Joint Powers Authority governing the shared system. Culver City and Montebello recently joined the authority and are working to get online, and San Fernando and San Marino use the system but aren’t on the JPA. During the response to the January Metrolink collision in Glendale that killed 11 people, ICIS allowed Glendale to have police, fire and all its other city departments communicating on one radio channel, said Battalion Chief Don Wright of the Glendale Fire Department. That helped with setting up barricades, dispatching buses and getting other resources. The ICIS system also has allowed Glendale police officers to stay in radio contact when they go into canyon areas that the old radio system couldn’t cover. Other agencies have had problems with radio communication in remote areas. After the Topanga fire first broke out Sept. 28, fire officials waited two days until a repeater device arrived from Idaho to provide radio coverage where the fire was burning away from the city and into Ventura County, said Capt. Kevin Nida of the Los Angeles Fire Department. “What we really need to do in L.A. County and Ventura County is to have a regional system similar to ICIS that provides coverage in those areas … so we don’t have to bring in portable equipment and have that delay,” Nida said. While the ICIS system allows police and fire units to talk to counterparts in other ICIS cities without having to go through dispatch, other agencies also have ways of communicating in an emergency. In the Topanga fire, that was done with mobile communication centers that allowed fire units from several agencies to talk to each other. The Sheriff’s Department can also connect public safety agencies through its communication center in East Los Angeles, said Lt. Steve Webb of the technical services division. The center is the hub for the Los Angeles Regional Tactical Communication System, which has received more than $45 million from the county and the federal government. Within 16 months, the more than 100 public safety agencies that are part of LARTAC will be able to talk to each other on shared radio channels that will always be active. But the Sheriff’s Department and county Fire Department are operating with radio systems that are more than 20 years old and need to be replaced, Webb said. “The methods and the philosophies of ICIS would fit into what we would ultimately probably purchase,” he said. “I don’t know if the ICIS system would support a buildout on that size. I don’t know what the cost would be.” Meanwhile, Glendale and the other cities in the ICIS Joint Powers Authority are looking to add radio towers, repeaters and relays to expand their system to cover the entire county, Najarian said. They hope to get about $15 million in federal assistance. “I would love every single municipality, not just L.A., but even the smaller ones, to be on the same system,” Najarian said, “where a radio call can be heard throughout the county.” Alex Dobuzinskis, (818) 546-3304 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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