Pelham council approves countywide radio system for police, fire departments

Published 3:57 pm Wednesday, January 4, 2017

PELHAM – The Pelham City Council unanimously approved a lease/purchase agreement with Motorola Solutions for a radio system that will ultimately allow the Pelham Police Department to communicate with police and fire and rescue agencies throughout Shelby County, and maybe throughout the state one day.

Police Chief Larry Palmer described the agreement, which was approved at a meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 3, as groundbreaking and historic.

“This is the first time all agencies in the county will be able to talk on the same frequency,” Palmer said. “This is a statewide system that everyone is working toward.”

Mayor Gary Waters said this is an invaluable opportunity to exploit the technology available to the city and put it to good use.

Palmer said the city is not able to effectively communicate with some agencies in the county.

“Sometimes we have to call our dispatch and have them call another agency’s dispatch center and have them relay messages back and forth, which wastes a lot of time in emergency situations. This radio system will allow us to communicate directly in the field.”

The P25 Digital Trunking Radio System has a price tag of $1.45 million for the city of Pelham and is expected to be up and running in about 10 months. The city financed the radio system for five years through Motorola.

The radio system will be supported by six radio communication towers located throughout Shelby County. Shelby County is funding five towers and Pelham is funding the sixth. The only thing other municipalities and volunteer agencies will have to do is purchase the necessary equipment.

In addition to the communications tower, the city is also purchasing 85 portable devices, 65 mobile devices for police vehicles and four dispatch consoles.

Palmer said he has been working on this project for nearly two years.

“I find myself envious because when I was fire chief we had many problems with interoperability, which refers to our ability to communicate with neighboring agencies,” Waters said. “As recent as the Colonial Pipeline incidents, this would’ve been very helpful.”

Waters added that the city’s current radio system is at the end of its service life and the city would’ve had to incur the cost of a new radio system anyway.

“I want to thank all of the government officials who made this possible – our county manager, the County Commission, Mayor Waters and the City Council,” Palmer said. “This will help us be safer and do our jobs better. This is a very big step.”

In other business, the council:

-Approved an ABC license application for Beverage City, LLC. The business recently relocated to Pelham from Hoover.