The city will spend more than $130,000 to purchase 32 radios and three control stations in order to comply with a Federal Communications Commission mandate that goes into effect Jan. 1.
The purchase was approved by the Harker Heights City Council on Tuesday.
The FCC mandate requires all public safety and business mobile radio systems to operate using a 12.5 kilohertz efficiency technology. City Manager Steve Carpenter said Tuesday the police and fire departments are operating under the megahertz system, under the Bell County emergency system, but the other radios in the parks and recreation and public works departments are not on the same frequency.
“So basically, since we cannot use the radios without possibly getting cited after the first of the year, the only way we’d have to communicate an emergency is with a cellphone,” Carpenter said. “It would be better to just bite the bullet and purchase these radios.”
The Jan. 1 deadline is the result of an FCC effort that began almost two decades ago to ensure more efficient use of the spectrum and greater spectrum access for public safety and non-public safety users, according to the FCC website.
The city will purchase the new equipment from Dailey-Wells Communications, which submitted a quote of $116,229 for 32 radios and $14,546 for three control stations.
The equipment will be funded through the utility and drainage fund balance, said Alberta Barrett, finance director.
The radios will be distributed to the parks and recreation, streets, maintenance, water operations, wastewater and drainage departments and installed in their vehicles. The base stations will be at City Hall, the maintenance building and the street and water yard, according to the city.
Deputy Fire Chief Glenn Gallenstein said the old radios are no longer usable but could possibly be used as ham radios. “Their frequencies are not programmable, and if you were to use them, you might be fined.”