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Interoperability

The interoperability and information sharing projects of the Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council are initiated and overseen by its subcommittee – the Western Massachusetts Regional Interoperability Committee (WMRIC). WMIRC’s mission is is to develop recommendations for policy and guidelines; identify technology and standards; and coordinate municipal, state, and private resources to assist/facilitate/improve/strengthen first responder interoperability in the region. Membership on the committee is open to any interested first responder/municipal leader from western Massachusetts. An executive committee comprised of representatives from the six identified public safety interoperability systems in western Massachusetts and six at-large members makes all final recommendations of WMRIC. If you are interested in participating, please contact Raine Brown, Homeland Security Program Manager.

The following projects are an example of some of the major projects of WMRIC/WRHSAC.

Western Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council System

The Western Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (WMLEC) was formed in 1980 as a consortium of 27 police departments in the Hampden and Hampshire Counties. WMLEC has implemented and managed a two county law enforcement radio network for nearly 30 years. Several federal, state, college, and abutting Connecticut agencies use this radio network for interagency emergency communications. In 2005 WMLEC expanded into Franklin County.

WMLEC UHF emergency communication system is used as a daily operations system for many police departments in Hampden and Hampshire County and serves a secondary, mutual-aid system for fire, EMS and police throughout the Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties.

WRHSAC has funded expansions of the WMLEC’s radio network. Completed aspects of this project have included a five site build out with two sites in Hampden County, two in Franklin County, and one in Berkshire. The five sites support two independent simulcast channels as well as two regional repeaters per site.

WRHSAC’s most recent upgrade to WMLEC included the addition of five more sites, for a total of ten tower locations. The equipment was upgraded to digital P25 ready system. This expansion has helped to address gaps in the Hampshire and Hampden Hills regions as well as built the system out into Berkshire County. This upgrade has also link WMLEC with the Massachusetts 800 Trunked system through an IP Cloud gateway.

Berkshire County Simulcast

Berkshire County Simulcast system serves the majority of public safety agencies in Berkshire County. Berkshire County Sheriff’s Office dispatches the system. The system is supported through user fees. The WRHSAC has been assisting with the buildout of Berkshire County’s UHF/VHF Simulcast system over several years. Recent work upgraded the system from one simplex county fire channel to three channels on the system. The project also added UHF/VHF simulcast and regional repeaters to an existing tower in Northern Berkshire County. This upgrade was completed in late 2012.

 Franklin County Emergency Communications System

The Franklin County Emergency Communications System (FCECS) serves the public safety agencies in Franklin County and is owned by the Franklin Regional Council of Governments. The system is supported through user fees. Over the past several years, WRHSAC has funded the buildout of the system from its original 1950’s design of a three-tower VHF system to its current 14 tower duplex UHF simulcast system. A recent upgrade to the system was completed to address coverage gaps in Western Franklin County along the Rt. 202 corridor, particularly in the towns of Orange and Shutesbury. A new tower was built in Orange, and additional repeaters were placed there and in Shutesbury. The upgrades were complete June 2013.

Hampshire Hills

Through the Hampshire Hills Interoperability Project, WRHSAC provided upgrades and buildout to the Hampshire Automatic Mutual Aid Group (HAMAG) radio communications system. HAMAG serves fire and police departments in bordering hilltowns located in Hampshire, Berkshire and Franklin County. The current project upgraded the equipment to a simulcast system at three of the system tower sites, and provided a direct link to Northampton Control to improve system resiliency. These improvements were completed in March 2013.

Multi-band Portable Radio Cache

The Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council purchased twenty-eight Harris Unity XG-100P multi-band radios. Seven radios are located in four caches in the region, one in each county. The radios have the ability to be used on any public safety communication system in the region and are available for use by public safety agencies throughout Western Mass. To locate the radio cache closest to you and learn how to borrow the radios, please see the WRHSAC Resource Guide.

Field Communication Unit Radio Upgrade

WRHSAC provided funding to upgrade the radios in the two Field Communication Units in the region. The Field Comm Units can utilize the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) radio system to communicate throughout the region and the state if called on in a mutual aid situation. Recently MSP upgraded their entire communication system to a digital 800MHZ system. To communicate on the system, the Field Comm Unit radios needed to be upgraded from analog to digital. This upgrade will be completed in August 2013.