Foley looks to improve first responder communication in the southeast quadrant

By Jessica Vaughn
Posted 9/16/20

FOLEY - After extensive research and discussion from the Foley Fire Department and Foley Police Department, the city has voted to lease radio tower space on an existing Orange Beach tower. The total …

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Foley looks to improve first responder communication in the southeast quadrant

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FOLEY - After extensive research and discussion from the Foley Fire Department and Foley Police Department, the city has voted to lease radio tower space on an existing Orange Beach tower. The total to prepay for a one-year lease as well as purchase initial equipment was approximately $61,000. According to fire and police officials, the new signal will greatly improve first responder communication in the southeast quadrant, a problem area identified several years ago.

During the last few months, the law enforcement agencies were made aware of a tower located on Canal Road which has premium spots available. The 275-foot tower is located in good proximity to Foley Fire and Police coverage gaps.

“We were able to do a test, we’ve gone all down the beach, all over the Graham Creek area, all the way down around The Wharf, areas that we knew were major problems today,” said Fire Chief Joey Darby. “That test has come back extremely favorable, in fact when you connect to that site we have good coverage all the way back here into town, which means it gives great overlap and would tie into our current system very well.”

The first responder teams recently learned from their vendor, Hurricane Electronics, that used radio equipment is available for purchase, which Darby says is a rare find. He’s estimated the cost of purchasing the equipment now and leasing the radio tower for the next five years would be approximately $167,000. The original five-year plan, which included finding a good location to construct a brand-new tower, would cost approximately $450,000. According to Darby, the original plan did not account for building a tower the size, magnitude, or quality of the one in Orange Beach.

“We’ve evaluated and tested this, and there is just no way within a reasonable budget amount that we can build the type of tower that’s available to us now … This will move our schedule up five years and save us a lot of money.” he said.

A concern brought before Darby was what would happen if a major storm hit the gulf coast. Darby said while a hurricane could take out all radio towers in any location, the most important detail was to have a backup plan, which Foley Fire and Foley PD do. He stated their networks were configured that if one tower is lost, they are able to access the others.

For more information on the City of Foley, visit https://cityoffoley.org.