Emergency radio service presents at council

Written by ECA Review

Alberta First Responders Radio Communications System (AFRRCS) is the largest emergency response system in North America according to presenters Brian Saunders and Whitney Benoit of the program under the Government of Alberta.

The Town of Coronation has been entertaining the idea of getting updated emergency equipment such as radios and towers to have a cohesive system fire departments and other response teams can utilize in the area.

Saunders and Benoit went over the basics of AFRRCS, noting its aim for assisting solely first responders and backups and redundancies network switch centres in Calgary and Edmonton.

They both recommended the town test out radios to see what would work best, saying that these radios – although costing upwards of $1,000 a piece if not more – are top of the line and act ‘like we are talking right now’ in person.

Coronation Fire Chief Keith Rindal and Deputy Fire Chief Chris Brearley attended the meeting to hear the presentation and give feedback on progress so far.

Brearley agreed these radios are ‘quite impressive compared to our regular system’ and that one model has been tested out already.

A couple of downsides to the program is that these channels only work with each other, meaning communities that already use AFRRCS can listen in while others can’t.

The radios are crystal clear anywhere outside ‘as long as you can see blue sky’ but are very tricky on using indoors because of materials in the infrastructure that can throw it off.

After discussion, it was found only the Special Areas fire chief and deputy as well as the County of Paintearth’s County Peace Officer carry devices on this system in Coronation’s immediate area and that no fire members have access.

Essentially there would be minimal communication with the neighbouring community of Castor if something were to happen.

The fire chief said that if they did want to communicate with Castor they do still have radios/frequency channels that are compatible with Castor but would require two radios, one for AFRRCS and one for others.

“The major downside is not being connected to your neighbours,” said Dep. Mayor Mark Stannard. “So until they get on board with it, you’re an island.”

Many communities farther west in Alberta use AFRRCS for all of their communication which many have found will continue to be the direction municipalities and the province move towards to have an entire system everyone is using.

The cell tower was brought back into the conversation.

AFRCCS does not allow their system to be patched into a current site unless absolutely necessary.

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Quinton Flint mentioned that the cost of constructing their own tower at a height of 150 ft. or taller which would be needed for emergency systems to work properly, would cost approximately $100,000 per 100 ft. plus an additional $60,000 to $80,000 for equipment and labour.

Council’s previous look at one promising company that already owns their tower nearby has now been brought out by another company so their thought of renting space for emergency equipment is now at a standstill while contact is made with the new company.

Despite the expenses, CAO Flint added that a large oil company in the area is interested in supporting this endeavour to have stable emergency communications, offering grant funding when needed.

If the department were to join AFRRCS, it was suggested six to eight radios would be placed in fire trucks with one for the fire chief and deputy.

It was agreed amongst council and firefighter leaders that more research is needed for the radio comparisons and also speaking with surrounding areas about their systems and what they are looking at in the future.

Councillor reduction bylaw

Council passed second and third reading of the Reduction in the Numbers of Councillors Bylaw 677-2020.

Mayor Ron Checkel added a clarification that the reason council is pursuing this is that they wanted to spread out their workload – not that there weren’t enough committees and meetings to attend.

The public will have 90 days to oppose this bylaw for it not to pass.

BREOC marketing

The Battle River Economic Opportunities Committee (BREOC) hired a photographer to attend multiple locations in and around Coronation as an opportunity to promote the area.

Council was tasked with selecting 10 images they felt would best represent Coronation and its amenities as well as Burma Park.

The rest of the images they will still be allowed to use for their own marketing but the 10 selected will assist BREOC in their separate marketing for the region.

Closed session

Council entered into closed session to discuss three private matters, one regarding land as per Sec. 7 of the Alberta FOIP Act as well as a third party personal privacy conversation and third party business interest topic.

One conversation revolved around the seniors housing manors in that it was asked of the town to give a letter of support to possibly take over the two manors within town due to possible amalgamation talk.

CAO Flint stated that nothing about this is confirmed at this time.

RCMP lease land

The land use bylaw was tabled as this bylaw hearing and subsequent special meeting took place the next day on Tues. Oct. 27.

CAO Flint stated the hearing went well and that council passed the bylaw revision to allow for the RCMP to pursue their quest in building a new detachment for the division.


Terri Huxley

ECA Review

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