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LUDLOW — A longtime radio communications project for the town’s public safety departments has finally come to a close, bringing several town departments under one umbrella.

Ludlow Police Chief Daniel Valadas and Fire Chief Ryan Pease appeared before the Board of Selectmen at its Feb. 6 meeting to inform members that the project, with a goal of incorporating radio communications for the Police and Fire departments as well as the DPW and Senior Center through the town’s central dispatching system,complete.

“Finally, we had out last meeting on Jan. 5, 2024, to close out this project,” Pease, who chaired the committee that oversaw the project, said. “We have coverage in all those areas now. The system works tremendous. It was just a long process.”

Valadas noted the project came in under budget and some funds would be returned to the town. He said all of the committee members deserved thanks for their work, especially Pease, who he called “the point of the spear.”

Speaking on the quality of the $4 million system, Valadas recounted a conversation with Marcus Communications, which installed the system, during which he learned that in addition to four radio channels, the town is now utilizing a digital system that only approximately 30% of the country has at its disposal.

“It was a lot of work, but I think what we have now, we can all say that it puts our public safety responders in a much safer place as well as the citizens of Ludlow,” Pease added.

The project initially went out to bid in 2019 following Town Meeting approval but related contracts were not signed by the selectmen until May 2021. Pease referred to the coronavirus pandemic, resultant supply chain issues, and collaboration with entities such as the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority and state Department of Conservation and Recreation as reasons for the protracted efforts.

Since the contracts were signed, two new communication towers have been built — one on town property at Nick Silval Field off of Center Street and another on the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority’s Nash Hill storage facility. Additionally, upgrades were made to existing equipment at the fire tower on Minechoag Mountain and the public safety complex that houses the Police and Fire departments, according to Pease.

These improvements and additions to the system will give public safety personnels “almost 100%” communications coverage across the town, which Pease said had been an issue previously.

“Going back, at the initiation, the start of this project, Chief Valadas can give you a story about the police … not having any coverage on their portable radios in a specific area in town where he was stuck by himself with a potentially very dangerous character and couldn’t speak out because our current system didn’t allow it,” Pease said.

He also noted that the two departments’ radio systems used different frequencies in the past and both had issues.

“At that time, police were on a UHF system and fire was on a BHF system but we were still having problems on both sides of our emergency communications,” he said, noting the Fire Department’s communications were especially spotty on West Street near the Keystone Commons senior living facility and on Interstate 90, portably radios were inoperable and only radios inside the department’s vehicles worked properly.

“Obviously, that was extending some big liability to our emergency responders as well as our citizens at the time,” Pease said.

The new system was tested by personnel physically stopping every square quarter-mile to check for connectivity, which Pease called “quite a process.”

“We have some very remote areas in town and they got to them all. It’s pretty amazing,” he said.

cmaza@thereminder.com | + posts