New radios to improve emergency communication in Rochester

Oct 4, 2023

ROCHESTER — Communication is important and according to Rochester Fire Chief Scott Weigel, communication between the fire and police department using mobile radios is “imperative.”

According to Weigel, as police departments across the state, including in Rochester, move toward using digital radios instead of analog, the fire department needs to upgrade its equipment to stay in touch.

“We really need to hear both sides to decipher a call,” he said.

Weigel requested that up to $25,000 be allocated from the town’s American Rescue Plan Act funds to purchase the radios. The Rochester Select Board unanimously approved that request at its Monday, Oct. 2 meeting.

Normally, for purchases under $50,000 the fire department would go through Town Administrator Glenn Cannon, but requests for American Rescue Plan Act funds need to go through the Rochester Select Board.

Already, Weigel has purchased two radios at $1,800 each for the department’s ambulances because “that was the most important.”

He added that 12 radios would take care of the department’s cars and fire engines.

Rochester resident and capital planning committee chair David Arancio asked the Select Board that, when Weigel comes back to the board with further requests for equipment, the money should be pulled from the American Rescue Plan Act fund.

“I am 100% in support of [purchasing the radios] … I would argue that we have the capacity to go ahead and take care of the [cost] fully and that is a mechanism I would strongly advocate for,” said Arancio.

The Select Board agreed.

“Everybody knows that [this is] near and dear to me,” said Rochester Select Board member Adam Murphy. “We can’t have our fire trucks not being able to talk to our police cars … this situation is to just catch us up to speed and then [Wiegel] is going to put together a list … and collaborate with the police chief … and figure out how many radios we need.”