by Morinville News Staff

The government announced Thursday that a new provincewide radio communication system will provide coverage for first responders through a system of hundreds of radio towers.

Presently, the province’s first responders, including police, fire and emergency medical services use their own radio systems that usually do not communicate with one other.

The government says the Alberta First Responders’ Radio Communication System (AFRRCS) changes that by making a networked system available to emergency personnel starting July 1.

“This important project will help protect the lives of Albertans, from families to first responders,” said Kathleen Ganley, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General in a release Thursday. “This provincewide radio system will ensure that the people who keep us safe every day have the communication network they need to respond as quickly and as coordinated as possible.”

Alberta RCMP Deputy Commissioner Marianne Ryan said the AFRRCS will provide radio coverage in major urban centres and remote locations where public and officer safety are equally critical.

“While the new radio system is about providing first responders with a vital tool to do their important work, it also demonstrates what can be achieved by multiple partners coming together to work towards a common goal,” she said.
The province says the extensively-tested system was used during the Fort McMurray wildfire crisis where AFRRCS radios were issued to emergency personnel from across the province and country, enabling firefighters to communicate with each other and the operations centre.

“The AFRRCS was absolutely crucial for us and all of our partners as we battled the Fort McMurray wildfire,” said Brad Grainger, Deputy Chief, Fort McMurray Fire Department. “The system allowed us to communicate efficiently with 32 different fire departments during the biggest crisis in our region’s history.”

Construction on $438 million AFRRCS began in 2008 and 328 of the 332 sites have been completed with a full completion to occur this summer.

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