CREST Board of Directors chair Gordie Logan (right) pictured back when CREST first announced that emergency services across Vancouver Island will see significant upgrades to their radio communications systems, is exciting to see the HRO system moving forward. (Black Press file photo)

CREST upgrades almost operational in Capital Region

New equipment replaces aging systems

Rick Stiebel/News Gazette staff

Work is underway to replace the aging radios currently being used in the Capital Region Emergency Service Telecommunications (CREST) system with the new HRO system.

Colwood Coun. Gordie Logan, chair of the CREST board, said that he expects the first new radios in the HRO system (pronounced hero) will be rolled out in the fall once testing is complete. Replacement will start with the core municipalities in the Capital Regional District before moving to the West Shore and Saanich Peninsula, with a completion date anticipated for early 2018.

The new radios are part of a $25 million expenditure announced by CREST in June of last year to replace the units in use for five to 10 years that are aging out. There are about 50 different agencies involved in the radio replacement, including fire departments, police departments, ambulance services and transit to name a few, Logan noted.

“We’re excited to get to this point,” Logan said. All of the user groups deserve a lot of credit for the roles they played in getting us here.”

Langford Fire Rescue Chief Chris Aubrey said feedback from initial testing of the HRO radios was positive. “I think overall we’re looking forward to the new system … The improvements will make our jobs easier.”

Logan is also pleased that a new mono pole was installed in Esquimalt this May. Once it’s operational, it will address concerns in service gaps raised by Esquimalt and DND fire services, he noted.

reporter@goldstreamgazette.com

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