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Beware of misleading information about FirstNet

In my last blog posting, I raised the role that fire chiefs need to play as governors decide whether to opt-in or opt-out of the state plans released on June 19 by FirstNet. I laid out some suggestions for fire chiefs to consider in participating with their state points of contact (SPOCs) in the process. 

I wanted to follow up on that posting with a few other points of interest that fire chiefs should be aware of:

  • Misleading information has been circulated which indicates that public safety users are not happy with FirstNet. This is not true. Most of public safety associations and its members fully support FirstNet. To suggest otherwise is irresponsible.
  • Another untruth being circulated is that governors can keep revenue from operation of its own state’s RAN citing section 6302 (g) of the Middle-Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-96). This is fiction as well. No one from FirstNet has said that revenue cannot be used to operate, maintain, operate, or improve the RAN. However, a governor cannot operate its state RAN and take any excess revenue and use if for its general fund. The act is quite clear on this point. Congress may have sought to provide an option for a state to implement its own RAN in the furtherance of its goal to provide first responders with the network they require, but Congress certainly did not intend to create a new source of state revenue.
  • Advise your SPOC that FirstNet’s broadband network will open the door to the development of new public safety technologies. For example, Next-generation 911 which will improve public safety communications in a growing wireless mobile society. Also, indoor location, (including vertical axis) is an important consideration, both for finding victims in an emergency as well as for first responder safety. Enhanced location was included as a key FirstNet objective, so the SPOC should be aware of this in finalizing their state plans.
  • Urgent Communications has articles on FirstNet myth busters that I recommend you read.

As this process moves forward, I welcome any thoughts or comments on the process. Also, if I can be of any assistance in your deliberations and participation, I welcome your input.

Chief Gary McCarraher is chairman of the IAFC Communications Committee. Jim Goldstein, IAFC staff liaison to the Communications Committee, contributed to this post.


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