AFRRCS will deliver significant benefits to the First Responder, primarily including cross-agency communications capability. Although there is no user fee to the First Responder Agency, approved AFRRCS P25 radios can cost substantially more, and there is an administrative overhead to consider through the transformation process. However, First Responder Agencies will not be paying for the core radio infrastructure any longer, nor will the Agency be paying for Industry Canada licensing for the AFRRCS radio infrastructure. All costs for tower co-location, system & tower infrastructure, and ongoing preventative and emergency maintenance are borne by the Government of Alberta Justice and Solicitor General (JSG). This is a significant consideration especially for Municipalities with large geographic footprints.
If you still have life in your existing radio system, then maintaining your system for non-First Responders with interoperability to the dispatch centre may still prove to be an effective communications strategy. It may make sense to go forward with a hybrid AFRRCS approach. That is, acquire AFRRCS radios for your incident commanders so they are able to communicate with other agencies while on scene. Another approach could be to support your existing volunteers with AFRRCS approved P25 pagers which can cost considerably less than AFRRCS P25 radios. With this approach, you can save money and more easily meet your communication needs by putting full feature AFRRCS P25 radios in the hands of incident commanders within your emergency response vehicles.
One of the first things you can do to better determine a way forward is to come up with a plan based on your current radio system. Do you have “As Built” documentation in hand which would detail the current deployment & all radio infrastructure including: equipment, tower locations, condition, current maintenance/repair processes, and fleet map? Based on this, you can start to lay out what your future communication requirements will be and begin to identify where the limits within your current infrastructure lie. This document and process could also be helpful in determining if the current radio system could have a ‘second life’ supporting your Public Works needs. Your AFRRCS Technical Administrator can assist you with this planning.
I’d be happy to discuss any questions you may have regarding legacy networks and AFRRCS, you can contact me directly through the form below: