AVFD Wants “YES” Vote for Public Safety at December 12 Referendum


Residents Urged to Approve Appropriation for P25 Radio Communication System 

Shall the Town of Avon appropriate $3,890,000 for costs related to the Town and Public Safety Communication Radio System Replacement Project, and authorize the issuance of bonds and notes in the same amount to finance the appropriation? That’s a question to be answered by Avon residents who vote in the referendum on Wednesday, December 12, 2018.

The Avon Volunteer Fire Department (AVFD) hopes everyone will vote YES. Here’s why:

First responders need to be able to communicate with one another in order to assist the public. Life safety of the public as well as the safety of the AVFD’s volunteers and other emergency responders depends upon effective communications.

Last updated in 1996, the communications network currently used by the Avon Volunteer Fire Department, Avon Police Department, Emergency Management, Department of Public Works, and Avon Public Schools is a conventional analog system. While the Town has contracted with an outside vendor for routine and emergency maintenance of the radio system, continued efforts to keep the system operational will require a considerable capital investment, replacement parts are becoming increasingly difficult to find, and first responders frequently report experiencing coverage gaps and dead spots, most notably on the west side of town.

The Town completed a competitive bid process for consulting services and Federal Engineering was contracted to assess the current system. Rather than continue investing in an antiquated communications system, Federal Engineering recommended the best course of action is to replace it with a 700 MHz radio communication system meeting the Project 25 (P25) standard. Used throughout the United States by local, county, state, and federal agencies, P25 is a nationally-recognized suite of standards developed to provide digital and voice data communications systems specifically for first responders. Endorsed by the US Department of Homeland Security, P25 has been the public safety standard for the last decade and will continue to be the standard for the foreseeable future. In the last two years, at least eight federal, state, and local government entities in Connecticut have purchased and installed P25 radio systems and several others are soliciting proposals from vendors. Following a competitive bid process, Motorola Solutions was selected to provide Avon’s new system.

A new public safety radio communications system will allow:

  • Improved Coverage – The new radio system will provide guaranteed coverage of 95 percent or better across town, including inside buildings where current radio communications capabilities are limited or non-existent. At present, there are buildings in Avon where the only way to communicate with someone outside the building is via land line; some outdoor areas of town have such weak coverage that dispatch has lost contact with first responders.
  • Interoperability – The new radio system will allow members of different departments (e.g., Fire, Police, Board of Education) to communicate directly with one another. At present, with the exception of the School Resource Officer who carries two separate radios, school personnel cannot communicate directly with the police department; they must use a cell phone to contact dispatch who most then contact responding police officers.
  • Ease of Use – The new radio system will automatically select the strongest radio tower for communications with dispatch based on where first responders are located in town. At present, fire personnel and police officers must notice (they are not alerted) they are out of range and manually choose the strongest tower. The radios also have Bluetooth connectivity with the firefighters’ self contained breathing apparatus face masks for better audio clarity in noisy environments.
  • Enhanced Features – The new radio system will have features to benefit not only first responders but all town departments that use the system such as radio location, over the air programming, lone worker monitoring, and emergency alerting to the dispatch center.

A properly maintained and routinely upgraded modern P25 radio system will provide the town with 15-20 more years of service. Details about the cost of the project and the tax impact in dollars are provided in an October 2018 publication produced by the Town of Avon. For further information, click HERE.

About the AVFD

Incorporated in 1943, the Avon Volunteer Fire Department proudly protects more than 18,000 people living in the 22.6 square mile area that makes up the Town of Avon. The Department’s mission is to provide fire suppression and prevention, life safety and rescue support, as well as other community support to the citizens of the Town of Avon. In addition, the Department provides mutual aid support to those surrounding communities that, in time of need, may request such assistance.

Staffed entirely by volunteers, the Avon Volunteer Fire Department prides itself on the selflessness and dedication of its members. The Department operates six companies and 15 pieces of apparatus, including a brush truck, ladder truck, tanker, rescue vehicle, boat, and pumpers. Four stations are located throughout Town – Company 1 on Darling Drive, Company 2 on Secret Lake Road, Company 3 on West Avon Road, and Company 4 on Huckleberry Hill Road. Anyone interested in learning more about the AVFD should call the Avon Volunteer Fire Department (AVFD) at 677-2644, visit www.avonvfd.org, connect on Facebook at AvonVFD, or stop by the Company 1 firehouse located at 25 Darling Drive any Monday evening after 7:00.