Alberta launches new provincewide system to connect first responders

Release Date: 
June 23, 2016
Lydia Neufeld
CBC News

'This is about the safety of first responders and the public,' said government minister

Alberta has launched a new radio communications system which it says will let first responders communicate with each other more effectively.

Currently, all police, emergency medical and fire services in Alberta use their own stand-alone radio systems that reach others within their own organization — but generally do not communicate across groups.

Starting on July 1, the new Alberta First Responders Radio Communications System (AFRRCS) will use a system of hundreds of radio towers to create a network available to all emergency personnel.

It's about safety, minister says

The system has been eight years in the making, and will cost $438 million, Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said Thursday.

Yearly upkeep and rental cost for the towers will be an additional $17 million for the province, she added.

"This provincewide radio system will ensure that the people who keep us safe every day have the communication network they need to respond as quickly and as co-ordinated as possible," Ganley said.

Municipalities and their agencies have access to the towers for free, but will have to pay for the radios they need to access the network. The basic model of radio is available for about $1,200.