News: New tower enhances radio communication
Story by Nathan Hanks
ALBANY, Ga. - A 196-foot communication tower was recently erected aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany to facilitate better first responder radio communication.
Some users include Marine Corps Police Department, Marine Corps Fire Department and the Installation and Environmental Division.
In a collaborative effort, MCLB Albany’s Communication and Information Systems Division and Installation and Environmental Division obtained funding to replace the old tower, according to Robbin Lamb, spectrum and land mobile radio manager, Communication and Information Systems Division, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.
“The tower supporting first responders, emergency maintenance and mass notification radio communication systems was identified as having serious structural issues,” she said.
Structural issues with the tower were identified in November 2010 during a survey collecting information for the Emergency Management Command and Control/Consolidated Emergency Response System/Enterprise Land Mobile Radio programs, according to Lamb.
“Tower repairs would have cost more than $40,000 so it was decided that a new tower should be built,” she said. “The old tower would have been replaced during the implementation of the ELMR program, which will take place in 2 to 3 years.”
ELMR is a program used Marine Corps-wide to standardize radio communication throughout the Corps.
“ELMR also fulfills the federal requirement for the Department of Defense to operate radio systems in the narrow band spectrum,” she said. “The standardization of radio communication and operating in the narrow band spectrum are direct results of lessons learned from 9-11.”
During the design of the tower and communication shelter, current radio system needs and future ELMR needs were taken into account, Lamb said.
“When ELMR is implemented, it will entail the replacement of current radios and radio support systems,” she said. “The new tower and shelter are designed in such a way that our current and future radio systems are supported.”
Additionally, the tower and shelter also meet current physical security requirements concerning communication structures, she said.
“Although construction of the new tower and shelter required several electrical outages, it provided users the opportunity to test back-up radio communication systems and contingency plans,” she said.
Lamb drafted the contingency plan and Rob Doerr, radio technician, CISD, worked with the users to ensure radio communication was not interrupted while the primary radio systems were off line.
“Because there were several outages, we were able to modify the contingency plan to be able to support our radio communication users during these outages and unplanned outages,” Doerr said.
Doerr worked with contractors to relocate radio systems for MCPD, MCFD and I&E to the new tower and shelter.
“Robbin Lamb and I are responsible for managing and providing upkeep of more than 1,000 radios and related radio system equipment for the base,” he said. “Many of the radios and systems are 15-20 years old and past their life cycle. The radios and systems must be maintained until ELMR is implemented in the next 2-3 years.”