Burbank officials hope recently passed legislation will help
emergency responders, like firefighters and police officers,
communicate more directly with crews from other agencies.
A bill proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D--Calif.) sets aside
$109 million for communications systems to link different agencies.
In proposing the legislation, Feinstein said incompatibility between
agencies complicated response after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks
and the Oklahoma City bombing.
Burbank Fire and Police units can communicate with each other and
some outside agencies. In an emergency, Fire Capt. Ron Bell said
those capabilities save valuable time.
“We can just slip over and talk to police or the police
helicopter; it works really well,” Bell said.
With that system, however, communication is limited by the number
of frequencies a radio can hold and might not work when units venture
too far outside Burbank. When that happens, field units from one
agency must go through dispatchers to reach field units from another
To improve on those limitations, Electrical Test Supt. Jack
Wildermuth said the city plans to join a multi-city consortium
upgrading to a new network that allows participating agencies to
communicate seamlessly. Glendale expects to be the first city to go
online with the new system in July, but Wildermuth said Burbank will
not be ready until sometime in 2005.
While county officials are implementing a countywide system for
use during specific incidents, Steve Hronek, Glendale’s wireless
services administrator, said their system could be used for
day-to-day communication between agencies.
“We’re just a bunch of cities getting together and sharing
resources,” he said.
Glendale spent $16 million on its new system, Hronek said.
Wildermuth just began talks with Motorola officials about upgrading
and said he did not know what the system would cost. However, he said
officials are already working to obtain funding from the new