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MEMA Home > Programs> Communication> News > State Modernizes Critical Granite Hill Public Safety Radio Infrastructure

State Modernizes Critical Granite Hill Public Safety Radio Infrastructure

 

March 27, 2008

 

AUGUSTA - The Department of Administrative and Financial Services today announced a project to modernize a critical capital area communications site.

The Granite Hill emergency communications tower site has served the citizens of Augusta, Hallowell and Maine in times of emergency for over fifty years. The State Office of Information Technology, working with the Cities of Augusta and Hallowell, was granted approval to modernize the Granite Hill radio site infrastructure in June of 2007.

Construction is now underway. This project is part of the “Maine State Communications Network” (MSCommNet) program that will upgrade the State’s public safety two-way radio system across Maine. The existing, aged public safety two-way radio systems will be consolidated and upgraded in the new design. MSCommNet objectives include capacity for public entities to collocate and collaborate with the State infrastructure and agencies.

The State has entered an agreement with the City of Augusta to collocate equipment to dispatch public works, fire and police services from the new tower. The tower will also serve City of Hallowell, which contracts with the City of Augusta for dispatch services. When asked, Michael Grant, the Fire Department Chief of Hallowell stated:

“Granite Hill tower site was always historically a strategic communications site for civil defense and for many years was the primary transmitter site for the State Emergency Operations Center. I am told the State will dispatch emergency responders and coordinate responses to area emergencies from the site. We will work with the State to share radio frequencies and develop an area communications plan that benefits everyone and promotes interoperability.

The majority of fire and EMS personnel in this area are volunteer firefighters who usually work away from their communities and depend on a radio pager to be alerted to area emergencies. It is essential that radio towers be located in areas that can ensure a radio signal is able to reach the intended receivers in spite of distance or barriers such as buildings.

In fact, at MEMA where I work right now, my fire pager will not activate and I have to rely on people calling me by phone because our tower on Winthrop Hill is not high enough. Creating a combined dispatch system incorporating the Granite Hill and other radio sites will ensure area emergency responders have redundant and reliable communications and alerting, regardless of location.”

The progress on the site will become more visible over the next few days. The existing 120-foot tower has been removed from Granite Hill and will be replaced with a 180-foot tower. The new tower design will accommodate the point to point transmissions and increased capacity needed to consolidate the City of Augusta Pelton Hill tower and the State of Maine’s requirements. The Pelton Hill is set for removal after the City’s telecommunications equipment is relocated.

The original Granite Hill tower was constructed by the Maine Turnpike Authority and has been in operation since 1956. Ownership was conveyed to the State of Maine in 1967 when operation by the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) began. The MEMA operation continued until July of 2007 when control of the site was assumed by the State’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) as part of a statewide project to consolidate and modernize mobile radio communications.

Current upgrading is funded by the State, the City of Augusta and a Department of Homeland Security grant. The new infrastructure will provide vastly improved communications to the area’s public safety and emergency management communities.

 

Contact:

Richard B. Thompson, Chief Information Officer
624-7568

 

Last update: 07/20/10