For more than three years, Wyoming County fire and emergency services communications have been stymied by Canadian authorities from using Very High Frequency radio transmissions.
On Friday, Sen. Charles E. Schumer Friday asked the State Department and the Federal Communication Commission to secure the necessary approvals for the Wyoming County first responders.
Schumer, D-N.Y., noted that Wyoming County officials have complained about being turned down three times already by the Canadian government on requests they submitted for the VHF authorization. He asked the U.S. authorities to intervene and work with their Canadian government counterparts to solve the problem as soon as possible.
“Wyoming County first responders are the first line of defense for the community and they deserve the resources and support to do their jobs to the best of their ability,” the senator said. “And in order for them to function efficiently and effectively, they need access to these radio frequencies. But time after time, the Canadian government has put up bureaucratic hurdles and a sea of red tape to prevent Wyoming County’s fire and EMS services from accessing necessary radio frequencies,” he added.
“That’s why I am urging the State Department and the FCC to work with the Canadian government to allow Wyoming County to access these necessary radio frequencies,” the senator said.
Schumer noted Wyoming County already has $1.8 million in government grant funds available to pay for new radios and tower equipment for its first responders but cannot use that money because of the impasse. The senator said the new radios and tower equipment will allow the county to put a new radio in each of its fire and EMS units and link them to all other public safety functions in the county.
Schumer said he needs State Department and FCC intervention because the Canadian government’s prolonged process for reviewing and judging requests for frequency access have created what he called “a profound level of urgency” for Wyoming County first responders.
The senator said he understands the FCC has traditionally had to deal with the issue of U.S.-Canadian frequency coordination, but the time-sensitive needs of Wyoming County officials suggests the State Department’s intervention should “help to ensure a successful result.”
Schumer spokesman Jason Kaplan said that while Wyoming County first responders now function through the 911 system, the radio frequency changes would dramatically increase their efficiency. Kaplan said he expects to get a response from both the State Department and the FCC early next week.