New Interoperable Radios for Pasadena’s First Responders to Replace Decade-Old Equipment

Published : Monday, October 7, 2019 | 4:54 AM

Pasadena’s first responders may soon be issued the most modern radio communication equipment, to replace hand-held and base radios that have been in use by the Pasadena police and fire departments for the past 11 to 13 years.

Pasadena’s Department of Information Technology is recommending a contract be approved for Motorola Solutions, Inc. to supply some $8 million worth of new radios and accessories for all city departments, most notably Police, Fire, Water and Power, Public Works, and Transportation.

In a staff report for the City Council, through the Public Safety Committee, the Department said there are nearly 1,600 portable handhelds, vehicle-mounted, and desktop radios across all City departments, along with the batteries and accessories that are predominantly sourced from Motorola Solutions, Inc.

The report said radios in support of Fire and Police Department operations were last replaced in 2006 and 2008, and were originally expected to remain in service for only ten years.

“The radios have exceeded their useful life and repairs are increasing in both frequency and cost. Motorola no longer supports the version of radios in the City’s public safety fleet and repair parts are becoming increasingly difficult to source,” the report said. “The pace of technology has also improved to the point where newer equipment is a full generation ahead of the technical capabilities of the existing radios. For example, triband (multi-band) radios are now available, which provide the ability to communicate on VHF and 800 radio frequencies, as well as our current standard UHF frequencies, all using the same radio.”

The report added one modern multi-band radio can enable interoperable communications with other agencies who use other frequencies, such as the California Highway Patrol (CHP), Cal Fire, and multiple Los Angeles County agencies.

With funding sourced from Measure I and the fiscal year 2020 Capital Improvement Program, the City intends to purchase a total of 1,008 radios for police and fire department uses. Old serviceable radios can still be repurposed for non-mission critical use, such as for spare inventory and special events.

Radios that are used for municipal operations, that is, non-public safety related, will be replaced as needed, funded from department operating and capital budgets. Non-public safety radios are less expensive to maintain and replace, as they have fewer features and functions and do not have to stand up to the same environmental conditions necessary for critical public safety operations, the report said.

With an expected rollout by January 2020, DoIT is recommending that radio equipment purchases be pooled with Los Angeles County and other cities, to avail of a 50-percent discount that Motorola Solutions Inc. is offering for pooled purchases.

By January, DoIT also plans to submit to the City Council a recommendation for a similar contract with Motorola Solutions to replace radio equipment in the fleet of Pasadena police helicopters. These radios are uniquely made and designed specifically for each helicopter, and require custom installation by specialized vendors.

Based on the anticipated costs for the helicopter radios and installation services, the DoIT plans recommending an increased total estimated cost of the Radio Communication Equipment Upgrade and Replacement Project by an additional $600,000.

The Public Safety Committee will take up the Motorola Solutions contract at an earlier meeting Monday, before taking it up to the full City Council by 6:30 p.m.

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