Project improves communication for first responders


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On June 1, Champaign County EMS and fire agencies will start the process of transitioning to the Multi-Agency Radio Communication System (MARCS) with County Dispatch. MARCS is a 700/800 MHz radio and data network that utilizes state-of-the-art trunked technology to provide statewide interoperability in digital clarity to its subscribers throughout Ohio and a 10-mile radius outside Ohio. The Phase 1 transition to MARCS involves the whole month of June. The focus of the transition is simulcasting the MARCS and current VHF system to evaluate current equipment capabilities.

Area chiefs say MARCS allows for more reliable communications, enhances the level of safety for first responders and creates safer communities. They say the MARCS system will allow first responders to communicate seamlessly, not only with each other, but with other agencies responding to an incident (i.e. fire departments from neighboring areas, law enforcement, etc.) and when there is a need to scale up to a state or federal incident.

MARCS was possible for Champaign County agencies because of a multi-agency $327,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of State Fire Marshal (SFM), for the state fiscal year of 2020. The grant allowed area agencies to purchase radio equipment and/or services for their departments. The grant helps to offset the cost of the radio equipment and user fees, making the radios possible for all Champaign County EMS and fire departments, regardless of size or budget. Just as important it will allow departments to switch over to MARCS at the same time.

Also, County Dispatch just completed a digital system upgrade.

“Together, as a county public safety system we are providing the most up-to-date communications for the community,” Urbana Fire Chief Dean Ortlieb states in a news release. “The process for the MARCS grant has been more than a yearlong project that included working meetings with the SFM and MARCS directors. The area chiefs believe what matters most is they are doing the right things for the right reason, truly a win-win for Champaign County.”

Grant awards

-Adams Twp.-Rosewood Fire Department: $48,133.52

-Christiansburg Fire Company: $40,614.76

-JSP Joint Fire District: $50,000.00

-Mechanicsburg Fire Department: $47,960.00

-Northeast Champaign County Fire District: $49,956.88

-Urbana Fire Division: $49,989.30

-West Liberty Fire Department: $40,513.60

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Submitted by the Urbana Fire Division

Submitted by the Urbana Fire Division