New Communications Tower Will Help First Responders in Emergencies

First responders in Oxford and Lafayette County will have an easier time dealing with emergencies in the future.

For the past two years, the statewide communications system has enabled local police officers and members of the fire department to coordinate with various state agencies; however, the nearest tower was still too far away to make the kind of impact the system can ultimately provide.

That communications gap will be eradicated as a contractor from the Mississippi Wireless Communications Commission is now working to install a new tower site at the new Whirlpool water tank location.

Jimmy Allgood, the Director of Emergency Management for the City of Oxford, said all the towers are interconnected, and the nearest one at present is nine miles away.

“This system works as a relay between each of the towers, and this will really improve the coverage for our officers and first responders as well as improve the communications for those that work with the state, such as the highway patrol and MDOT,” Allgood said. “So not only will this new tower site improve the City of Oxford’s communications, but it will enhance the capabilities of the Sheriff’s Department, University Police Department, North East Power, and all state agencies operating in our community. This new tower site will also enhance the capabilities of the surrounding communities and counties, greatly increase our emergency communications within buildings around town and the university, and should prevent any dead zones within the city, thereby providing for additional capabilities and safety for our first responders.”

The new tower is a $1.3 million investment. First responders are currently operating off of towers to the north, east and west of the city. With the new tower more centrally located, Allgood said there shouldn’t be any down time with emergency and operational communications.

The tower site is totally self-sufficient, meaning it will have its own dedicated generator for power supply, a 10-by-12-foot communications hut, and a dedicated microwave link to the other tower sites. The MWCC is providing funding for the entire project. The only commitment required from the City was the approval of the use of the Whirlpool water tank.

“This is going to be a real asset to our city operations and emergency communications services, not only now, but also in the future,” Allgood said. “We can talk to anyone in the state and from anywhere. This will allow us to not lack for communication before, during and after an emergency.”

The communications hut is scheduled to be delivered on Feb. 22, and installation of the actual communications equipment will begin after the hut is in place. Allgood said the contractor is currently digging and pouring the pads for the hut and generator. The next step will be to install the underground electrical service to the equipment hut, and the final step will be the installation and hookup of the communications equipment.

“I would like to thank the Mississippi Wireless Communications Commission, the City of Oxford Engineering and Public Works Department, the City of Oxford Building Department, and the Oxford Electric Department for working to help make this project come to life,” Allgood said. “This is a big project and investment in our city and emergency communications capabilities and will serve our community for many years to come.”

Story by John Davis, special to