Project designed to eliminate dead zones

NAUGATUCK — A new radio communications antenna will help the fire department communicate everywhere in town.

Currently, several areas in the borough, including around New Haven Road and Candee Road and some areas downtown, are dead zones for the fire department’s radios, according to Fire Chief Ellen Murray.

“It’s a huge safety issue and this whole radio project should solve most of that,” Murray said.

Last February, firefighters weren’t able to reach dispatch as they battled a blaze at the condominiums on Horton Hill Road and New Haven Road. They had to have a Beacon Falls firefighter call his dispatcher and that dispatcher had to call Watertown dispatch.

“It’s terrible coverage down there. It’s extremely dangerous for the firefighters,” Murray said.

Naugatuck’s hilly topography and antiquated equipment has made it difficult for the radio signals to reach all parts of town, she said.

Last week, the Board of Mayor and Burgesses approved a $350,000 project to move antennas and add repeaters.

At the moment, the borough has two repeaters to help boost the signal, but only one can be used at a time. Once the project is complete, both repeaters will be able to be used simultaneously.

“It’s very old and that was the technology at the time,” Murray said.

The borough will replace a broken antenna on Rado Drive with a new antenna on the WTSX cell tower between Peach Orchard Road and East Side Boulevard.

The tower is in a much better location to transmit signals, Murray said.

The borough will pay $750 a month for a license to use the space.

Because the police department already has equipment on that tower, the fire department will be able to share some of it.

The project also includes moving a police department antenna from the water company to Ion Bank, which is allowing the borough to install the equipment on its roof for free.

NorcomCT, which sells, installs and services two-way radio systems and has an office on Great Hill Road, will replace the antiquated repeater on the HUD building on Millville Avenue.

“It’s not even supported anymore, it’s so old,” Murray said.

Once those three projects are finished, NorcomCT will reassess coverage to see if there are still any dead zones. The $350,000 includes enough money to add two more repeaters, if necessary.

“We are thrilled by the support of the finance board and the borough board and the mayor,” Murray said, especially Burgess Patrick Scully, who chaired the subcommittee working on the project for the past two years.

Murray said she expects the new equipment to be installed in three or four months.