The Town of Florence is working to complete upgrades to the public safety communication system. The upgrades to the system will enhance the communication exchange between dispatch operations, fire operations, police operations and regional public safety partners.

In 2009, the Town contracted the services of Federal Engineering to inventory and evaluate the Town’s current public safety communication system. The need to inventory and evaluate the current system was originally based on the mandate from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to employ narrowband technology by January, 2013 and to identify how new equipment can better serve newly annexed areas.

Based upon the 2009 Federal Engineering reports and subsequent studies, it was found that the Town needed to upgrade its communication system to meet the current and future demands. Upgraded equipment includes radios, dispatch consoles, repeaters, upgrades to the existing communication tower in the Florence Gardens area, and the construction of a new communication tower in the vicinity of Hunt Highway and Attaway Road.

In 2010, the Town of Florence received a bid from a vendor to upgrade the system in the amount of approximately $1.7 million. Since that time, the Town of Florence has pursued multiple grant opportunities, utilized an independent consulting firm (Federal Engineering) to critically evaluate costs, and created a competitive bid process. Due to this approach, the new cost estimate for the upgrades is approximately $1 million.

Over the last twelve months, the Town was successful in soliciting grant funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency ($65,331), the Tohono O’odham Nation ($65,000), and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ($280,000). The grants awarded to the Town for the project total $410,331. An additional grant is being pursued and the Town is hopeful that it will increase the amount of grant funds dedicated to this project. The cost to the Town for this project is expected to be less than $600,000, which is more than $1.1 million less than the original cost estimate.

The Town will be applying soon for the FCC form 620 permit for the new tower planned in the vicinity of Hunt Highway and Attaway Road. In addition, the Town has selected Canyon State Wireless as the vendor to negotiate contractual terms and complete the project. A contract is expected to be completed in the next 30 to 60 days and the project is expected to be completed in September, 2011. At that time, public safety personnel will have greatly improved communication equipment and the residents of the Town of Florence will have increased public safety services.

For more information about this project, contact Jess Knudson, Town of Florence Deputy Town Manager, at 520-868-7541 or email.