Communications system needs updating

Published 4:49 pm Wednesday, November 24, 2021

A mutual aid agreement between fire and EMS personnel in Cumberland, Goochland and Fluvanna counties has raised questions about the Cumberland’s pressing need for an updated communications system.

During the Tuesday, Nov. 9, Cumberland Board of Supervisors meeting, Cumberland Fire and EMS Chief Tom Perry came before the Board to answer any questions regarding a proposed mutual aid agreement with the counties of Goochland and Fluvanna.

The agreements will allow Goochland and Fluvanna to work with Cumberland in case of emergency to provide mutual aid in the form of firefighting or emergency medical services and vice versa.

When asked if the Board had any questions, District 2 Supervisor Ron Tavernier told Perry he had heard the county was having problems with its communications system and that the system is in need of major upgrades to be able to communicate with mutual aid units.

Perry told supervisors that Cumberland’s current radio system does not have the capabilities to communicate with several local counties, including Goochland, Powhatan and Amelia. The county is currently able to somewhat communicate with Buckingham through a patch of sorts, Perry said.

Perry noted Cumberland Fire and EMS has been exploring new radio systems over the last several months in search of a system which will serve the county best and last for a long time.

When asked by District 3 Supervisor and Vice Chair Eurika Tyree about costs, Perry noted the price could vary widely, but a better system is a necessity.

“It could run anywhere from $800,000 to over $2 million,” he said. “…It definitely needs to be addressed.”

A motion was made by Tavernier and seconded by District 5 Supervisor Robert Saunders Jr. to approve the mutual aid agreements. The motion passed unanimously.

Perry did not respond to requests for comment regarding the communications issue or mutual aid agreement.