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STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESSFULLY IMPLEMENTING AN 800MHz RADIO SYSTEM IN THE PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY ... - page 5 / 54

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INTRODUCTION

The Prince William County (Virginia) Government made a strategic decision five

years ago to replace its conventional public safety communications system. In

conjunction with the City of Manassas (Virginia) and the City of Manassas Park

(Virginia), Prince William County applied for and was licensed 22 channels in the 800

Megahertz (MHz) frequency range by the Federal Communications Commission.(FCC)

The City of Manassas and City of Manassas Park are located within the borders of Prince

William County. The City of Manassas Fire Department, the City of Manassas Park Fire

Department and the Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue (“The

Department”) respond into each other’s jurisdiction on a routine basis under the

provisions of an automatic mutual response agreement.

The Prince William County Government management staff recommended that

that existing 154 MHz radio system be replaced with the newly licensed channels to a

trunked, digital radio system. This system would provide state of the art communications

technology for all Public Safety agencies within the confines of Prince William County.

This research will focus on public safety communications as it relates to the provision of

fire and rescue services. The Prince William County Board of Supervisors signed a $21

million contract in December 1999 to replace the existing obsolete and unreliable public

safety radio system. A new state-of-the-art 800 MHz radio system is currently being

built and is planned to be fully operational by April 2003.

The problem is that an implementation plan has not been developed to transition

the Department of Fire and Rescue into the new radio system. Included in this project are

many technological advances. These advances will result in changes that will impact

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