'SIRN' project a go

Jun 6, 2017

It’s called the “Statewide Interoperable Radio Network” project – or “SIRN” (siren) for short.

And thanks to the actions of the 2017 Legislature, providing a funding mechanism, the project will soon get off the ground.

It’s a project that would allow various public safety agencies to talk to each other – a shortcoming pointed out nationally after 9/11, when first responders were unable to communicate.

"Public safety relies heavily on being able to communicate," said Duane Schell, the director of the network services division of the state Information Technology Department. He’s also the acting chairman of the “SIRN” steering committee. "Providing them with a reliable and dependable interoperable system is incumbent on us, to insure they have the tools to do their job."

"If our computer systems are not functioning, we heavily rely on the radio system, " said Mike Dannenfelzer, the director of the Central Dakota Communications Center in Bismarck. He said having first responders be able to talk with each other is invaluable.

"When officers, firefighters and EMS personnel are out of their vehicles, the only thing they have to reply upon is the radio," Dannenfelzer said. "The ability to coordinate response, and communicate on scene to get to patients and victims is certainly going to be improving."

It will take a number of years to completely roll out the system.