Oneida County, New Hartford to share public safety equipment under proposed agreement

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An agreement between Oneida County and the village of New Hartford to serve as a "template" for other municipalities would provide the village with public safety communications equipment, including radios, tablets and computers.

Oneida County legislators voted in favor of the proposal at their general meeting Wednesday, with 22 "yes" votes and one not voting.

The five-year contract would staff the New Hartford Volunteer Fire Department with radios, tablets, computers and new software — with the contract serving as a "template agreement for all public safety and public service agencies with Oneida County-provided software, voice and data communications equipment," according to the proposal. The proposal does not list any funding needed for the endeavor.

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According to the agreement, the county would grant municipalities access to emergency communications service — Oneida County Radio Interoperable Communications Systems, or OneRICS — as well as grant access to and provide county equipment at no cost.

The agreement is part of an equipment-sharing program between the county and municipalities dating back to 2012, Oneida County Director of Emergency Services Ed Stevens explained Thursday. The program, mostly funded by grants, was put in place to update radio systems to be consistent across all first responder agencies, he said.

"The county has done agreements like this before with other municipalities for equipment," he explained, adding that this "template" agreement would allow them to use the same language for other agencies.

In the first phase of the project, equipment was shared with Utica and Rome fire and police departments and the New Hartford Police Department, Stevens said. In the second phase, equipment was shared with remaining law enforcement agencies in the county and now, in phase three, remaining fire and ambulance agencies are receiving equipment, he said.

"It's giving them an opportunity to speak to each other across disciplines via the radio," he said.

New Hartford village Mayor Donald Ryan said the equipment plan has worked well for changing radio and 911 systems.

"It seems to be working out very well," he said, later adding. "911 has developed a communication to make sure all law enforcement are on the same wave length."

H. Rose Schneider covers public safety, breaking and trending news for the Observer-Dispatch. Email Rose at hschneider@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Observer-Dispatch: Oneida County, New Hartford firefighters to share equipment