Board of Directors Regular Meeting Agenda


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Meeting Date: 03/27/2019  

SUBJECT MATTER:
Receive, consider, and act upon the Montgomery County Emergency Communication District (MCECD 911) contribution and for the purchase of the back up radio equipment for the fire department’s emergency communication center and upgrade grounding protection at the center.
FISCAL IMPACT:
2019 Capital budget in the amount of $12,040.45 and a contribution from the MCECD 911 in the amount of $108,364.05.
BACKGROUND:
The Woodlands Fire Department provides emergency radio and 911 answering services to Montgomery County through a robust telecommunication and regional radio system.
 
The approved MCECD Public Safety Anwering Point (PSAP) Improvement Grant will provide one additional dispatch console dedicated to radio operations. Moreover, it will provide resiliency by providing an alternate location for other PSAPs to operate if needed.
           
The Harris Symphony radio will connect to the Montgomery County Hospital District’s P25 system.  The unit will have access to Conroe Fire Department, MCHD and Conroe PD talk groups as well as Texas WARN talk groups connected via the inter-sub-system-interface (ISSI).  This provides one position for any of the four PSAPs to place staff to communicate with any county field responder.  In conjunction with the VESTA system in place at TWFD, the other three PSAPs could operate from multiple positions within our facility to process calls.
 
The position will also include two Kenwood NXDN radios programed with the North Harris County fire departments’ radio system.  This allows for direct communications with those fire units during mutual aid events.  Dispatchers would also be able to create multiple “on-the-fly” patches between systems as needed.
 
The position will include a single VHF radio with encoder.  In the event of a connectivity failure to MCHD, the loss of the US Digital Designs alerting system, or a connection failure to the simulcast system this will provide an additional resource to alert fire stations of emergency calls.  Also included in the request is a HAM radio and satellite telephone. In the event of a widespread emergency, additional resources for communicating with other agencies will be available.
 
The installation of the new console will move the four PSAPs into a better position of interoperability.  If future efforts can be made to tie the CAD systems together, or move to a single platform, any agency can function from another’s location.  This provides multiple benefits: contingency preparedness with multiple backup locations available, overflow positions during major events such as hurricanes, or specific need events when it would benefit several agencies to operate together in a fixed location.
 
Additional grounding measures are needed at Central Fire Station to protect communication equipment provided by MCECD and The Woodlands Fire Department.  Staff from both agencies have met with vendors to get their recommendations for improved grounding at the facility.  The needed grounding updates will aid in protecting mission critical equipment during thunderstorms to prevent damage and provide seamless operations.  Equipment has been damaged in the past due to unexpected lightning strikes, most recently on December 26, 2018.  In that event, primary equipment was damaged requiring personnel in the dispatch center to operate on back up procedures until the damaged equipment was replaced approximately 48 hours later.  The department has funding allocated in the 2019 Capital Budget to provide grounding upgrades at all TWFD facilities.
 
Each year MCECD (911) provides funding to assist the four communications centers located in Montgomery County with capital funds in support of Emergency Communications.  This year the department determined that facility grounding and backup equipment is needed to enhance communication services for Montgomery County in the event of a failure of the primary radio system and associated equipment.  
 
On March 20, 2019 a presentation was made to the Board of Directors of MCECD 911 requesting 90% funding of the proposed communication center upgrades. This will allow us to purchase the equipment needed to establish a backup console in The Woodlands Fire Dispatch Center in addition to making necessary upgrades to the facility’s grounding system. The total cost for this project will be $120,404.50 of which The Woodlands Fire Department is required to fund 10% of the program cost ($12,040.05).
 
The MCECD 911 Board of Directors approved the program and authorized the contribution of $108,364.05 to The Woodlands Fire Department.
RECOMMENDATION:
Approve the purchase of a backup emergency communication console, equipment, and upgrades to the facility grounding system in the amount of $120,404.50 and accept the contribution from Montgomery County Emergency Communications District (911) in the amount of $108,364.05 towards the cost of the emergency communication center upgrades.

    

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