MAHONING COUNTY Search narrows for 911 consultant

The improvements will be done when the system is moved to the county jail.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The search for a consultant to revamp Mahoning County's 911 system is narrowed to three candidates.
County commissioners hope to have one on board by summer, said county Administrator Gary Kubic. They began the search in January after being criticized by chiefs from rural police and fire departments about inadequacies in the system.
Commissioners voted earlier this year to relocate the 911 center from the county administration building on Boardman Street to a room in the county jail on Fifth Avenue.
Criticisms: Many of the police and fire chiefs who use the system said it needs to be improved and expanded so fire departments and ambulance crews can have their own radio frequency instead of having to compete with police for air time.
Some also complained that there are too many "dead spots" in the county where radio signals don't reach their areas, thus providing unreliable service.
Rather than move the aging system into new quarters and then replace it, commissioners opted to overhaul the system when it's relocated.
Eleven companies applied to serve as consultant for the project, said James Fortunato, purchasing director. He declined to name the finalists because they have not yet been notified.
Decision process: Kubic said commissioners and a committee of county officials and system users will meet with each company within two or three weeks, after which the committee will make a recommendation to hire one.
The consultant will recommend equipment and technology best suited for the county's needs, including a new radio control console. It will also recommend sites for new radio broadcast towers to ensure coverage over the entire county, Kubic said.

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