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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
May 6, 2015     Feather River Bulletin
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May 6, 2015

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.: Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, May 6, 2015 7B GRAND JURY, from page 6B communicate within a tighter frequency range (before 2013, the coverage was 30 KHz wide; the narrowband mandate cut that to 12.5 KHz), which often causes interference, crosstalk and "stepping over" transmissions between interagency and individual conversations. According to the Plumas County Sheriffs Office, the mandate has caused a minimum 30 percent loss of coverage within the county. In addition, the narrowband mandate prompted central dispatch and all field radios to be reprogrammed to broadcast within the new mandated frequency range. This, in turn, made it necessary for increased training and field exercises, and in some cases, increased equipment upgrades and in-service testing. The grand jury has learned that at the time of publication of this report, the Sheriffs Office has made significant upgrades to the Plumas County microwave system. Plumas County relies on mountaintop microwave sites on local prominent peaks that relay radio transmissions to and from central dispatch in Quincy. The upgrade includes state-of-the-art IP-based technology, which not only allows for more efficient and better quality radio transmissions, it also enables the system to be able to transmit high-speed data and video. Up to now, the public safety radio system in the county was strictly an outdated analog/digital hybrid that only provided voice transmission. With IP-based technology, data and video surveillance throughout most of the county is now possible, providing a valuable asset for fire and crime suppression and prevention. ! METHODOLOGY The grand jury interviewed l [ L the director of the Office of Emergency Services for Plumas County, several of the local fire chiefs within districts of Plumas County and the primary communications officer for the Plumas County Sheriffs Office. In order to understand the scope of the Plumas County emergency services system and how it works, the grand jury interviewed the communications company that services and rents/leases radio system equipment (microwave, repeaters, transmitters, etc.) in radio sites throughout northern California and Nevada. The grand jury reviewed a number of documents including the Plumas County emergency operations plan, the Jan. 1, 2013, FCC narrowband mandate and the Plumas County hazardous materials response plan. In addition, the grand jury reviewed after-action reports from several past Plumas County training exercises and disasters. DISCUSSION During our investigation, the grand jury interviewed emergency services personnel in the Plumas County Sheriffs Office, as well as personnel in various Plumas County fire agencies. It must be stated that the grand jury was impressed with the dedication and professionalism of the people we interviewed and their ability to do a good job with limited resources and all the aforementioned roadblocks. We also interviewed a representative from the communications company that provides a service contract to Plumas County microwave and repeater sites. The grand jury decided to conduct a full investigation to determine whether the Plumas County emergency services communication system is reliable in providing communications in the face of potential disasters. Make Mother's Day 258-4543 5onshine Flowers 212 Choose your flowers - Order Early or come by and pick out an arrangement from the display. Plants Gifts Bath & Body Stuffed Animals Main St., Chester Local and Worldwide Delivery J[ron Door First responders and emergency services depend on communications; having a reliable system and the ability to communicate with each other and back to central dispatch is of utmost importance in terms of public safety and response time. When law enforcement, fire and EMS services are required, our public safety communications system must be dependable. The grand jury has learned from its investigation that the communication system works well in areas within the limits of repeaters an[l zones close to local cities and towns. As stated earlier in the report, problems multiply in bad weather, power outages and specific areas that fall out of coverage areas around the 11 repeater sites. The narrowband mandate has added a new rash of problems for the system. Law enforcement, fire and EMS have found areas that once had coverage are now unpredictable and prone to service disruptions. It has been learned that these agencies often lave to rely on personal cellphones to make official calls. Law enforcement, fire and EMS operate on three separate radio systems. Each agency has radios that are tuned to a specific frequency or channel. It has been reported that in an emergency when one system is down, dispatch can switch between fire and police frequency channels. Although this capability offers a redundant solution to a problem, it merely puts a Band Aid on the real problem. The grand jury would like to see more attention to improving service to all three agencies, without having to use personal cellphones or interagency channels. Commercial power is one other important factor at the heart of communications problems. The grand jury learned that the 11 repeater sites are leased by various companies and agencies. If the power bill is not paid, the site is subject to a service disconnect by the power company. Some of the Plumas County radio sites have generator and battery backups. In case of a power outage, those that do not have some alternative power back source will lose the ability to communicate. The grand jury spoke with interviewees about alternative solutions that may improve or mitigate future lapses and outages. One such solution may one day become available, called "FirstNet." FirstNet was created through a congressional act in 2012 and funded through proceeds from spectrum auctions. The grand jury finds it problematic that one federal agency would cut public agency bandwidth allocations, only to have another government agency (U.S. Department of Commerce) sell portions of it to the private sector. Nonetheless, FirstNet would allow law enforcement, fire and EMS across the United States to use public cellphone networks. Funding from FirstNet will be provided to all public safety agencies to upgrade their existing mobile radio equipment to cellular technology. No further updates or target area starting dates have been announced at this report date. Cal Fire is a state of California fire suppression agency that has a very small Tues-Fri" lOam:5:3Opm. Sat. lOam-5pm Dare w Be Dazzled The Store that Sparkles! (530) 228-6773 298 Main Street, Chester Donna O'Conne!l, Owner her day and save on her meal! ri ay, MayS, I Brea t.Lunc" /" xl for the season I Sunday, May 2014 only [ I Prime Rib for Mom, I 7am-3pm e ras J Sunday, May 10, Mother's Day Specials Chef Artistry ~ Nicholas Atkins Reservations Suggested ~ 836-2376 Regular Hours: Dinner 5:00pm Closed Tuesdays Your Hosts, The David Family Charming and historic_perfect for that "Special Occasion" Fine Dining--Banquets--Full Bar 10 minutes from Graeagle via Johnsville Road Lassen Gift Company & Soda Fountain Buy Mom the best gift ever:.. A Gzft Certzflcate! ! 0 25 Yo off Jewelr] Winter hours: Tues.-Sat. lOam-4pm 220 Main Street, Chester, CA 530-258-2222 New Spring Merchandise has arrived/ 1 s iafizi i C .':.'." .. 5 ;pec. nfl:~: .. ~ car~ C in :: ". ) .!~ ~ " ' presence in Plumas County. Most homeowners within PlumasCounty pay the annual Cal Fire fee but receive little support in terms of fire service. The grand jury has learned that some of the strategic and problematic repeater sites in Plumas County may have Cal Fire repeaters and transmitters staged but they are not being used. The grand jury would like to suggest that if this is the case, we would request the BOS or Plumas County emergency services submit a formal request for interoperability between Cal Fire communications equipment located within Plumas County and the incumbent fire services system. Some of the Plumas County mountaintop repeater and microwave sites are joint-use sites that share towers and equipment in buildings located on the peaks. Rental cost at these sites has increased dramatically. The grand jury has learned that hospitals are funding their EMS system and that funding is projected to be unable to cover the rising costs. It is hoped that the BOS and the Office of Emergency Services address this issue and ensure that their radio system remains in operation for their essential services. It should be mentioned that radio towers on Plumas County repeater sites are becoming more and more attractive for private communications carriers, and that rents and leases will increase accordingly. FINDINGS F1) The grand jury finds that the Plumas County radio system depends heavily on commercial power, and many of the inherent problems stem from power outages and power-related issues. F2) The grand jury believes that the Plumas County public safety radio system should have the capability of reaching effectively a// stretches of major public roads and railways. F3) The grand jury finds that increasing costs and radio interference from See Grand Jury, page 8B I Mimosa Cupcakes Cinnamon Rolls I ttO tJ, (530) 591-2509 Angela Sandlin, Owner-Baker 307 Jackson St., Quincy Treat her to Chocolate covered strawberries We have lots of gifts she'll level Black Hills Gold Charm Jewelry V CIo!hing Lohons " " '; personalized Queen for a day sugar cookies Bell Lane Baked Goods Co. 91 Bradley St., Quincy 283-4735 Sunday, May 12, 2015 ~ 8am to 2pm Regular Menu also available Bloody Marys and Mimosas 4.95 Southwestern Benedict Two sausage patties on a split English muffin, topped with two poached eggs, chipotle hollandaise sauce and crumbled bacon bits. Served with choice of Potatoes Sausage and eggs with biscuits and gravy Link or patty sausage, two eggs, any style, choice of potatoes, and two fluffy biscuits topped with sausage cream gravy Banana Pancakes with Blueberry Maple Syrup Served with two links or two slices of bacon Louisiana Omelet Cajun andouille sausage paired with green peppers, onions, and jack cheese. Served with choice of potatoes, and house made raspberry cream cheese muffins Dinner Menu - 5:00pm to 8:00pm Your choice of Prime Rib, Old-fashion Fried Chicken and much more Reservations Recommended Can'tGivedecide?her a ' Otf" 8t ds o Ddi Gift Certificate ] 2932 Almanor Drive West i West Shore at Prattville '.i i Canyon Dam, CA 95923 (530) 259-2464 .... ............. 1690 E. Main St., Quincy 283-3302