WMLEC, which stands for Western Mass Law Enforcement Council, is a UHF radio system that was started in the 1980s by the Council. As time passed, and grant funds became available, WMLEC has evolved into a multi site, multi discipline (not just police) regional communications system. In 2013, a major investment of Homeland Security funds built out the system even more, doubling its size and capabilities. The next phases of WMLEC will be to run in both P25 digital and analog modes simultaneously, and to be connected to the Massachusetts State Core, which in turn will connect to the Massachusetts Statewide Trunked 800 system, giving the ability to anyone with a 800 trunked radio (MSP, MEMA, DFS, Some local PD) to use WMLEC. Once connected to the Core, WMLEC will also be available at the MEMA bunker and at any State Police barracks in the Commonwealth. The last phase of WMLEC will be looking into gaps in coverage areas and how they can be improved.
To ensure interoperability, the proper nomenclature is “WM” to designate WMLEC and then the channel name, such as SIM 1, SIM 2 or regional repeater site. For more info on nomenclature and frequencies, see the MIFOG (Massachusetts Interoperability Field Operations Guide).
There are two main WMLEC simulcast channels: WM Sim 1 is primarily used for Police communications and WM Sim 2 is primarily used for Fire / EMS communications. These channels are simulcast, meaning you can talk into any site without having to change channels based on location, and the signal will be broadcast out of every one of the 10 sites on the system. For example, this allows for someone in East Longmeadow to talk to someone in Greenfield and everyone else in Western Mass will hear it.
On WM SIM 1, the police channel, the primary use is for BOLO’s (be on the look out) and for police agencies to talk with other local, state and college police agencies in Western Mass, as well as some agencies in northern CT and southern VT.
On WM SIM 2, the fire channel, the primary use is for mutual aid, task force activations and as a command net for a large incident like the 2011 tornado.
Both SIM 1 and SIM 2 are monitored by most dispatch centers in the region.
In addition to the simulcast channels, there are also 5 sites that have regional repeaters (2 repeaters per site) that can be used as a command and control or tactical channels for operations.
There are also permanent radio patches into WMLEC for users without UHF radios. On Mt. Tom there is an 800 Mhz and a VHF patch to WM SIM 1 for police departments who don’t have access to UHF. On the Ludlow fire tower there is a VHF (Fire Intercity) patch to WM SIM 2, but that only works if you are in the coverage area of the Ludlow tower.
All of these patches are listed in the MIFOG.
The 5 black towers are the pre 2013 build; the 5 red towers are the new sites.
As of the writing of this article, both Great Barrington and Lenox are receive-only sites, not transmitting until some technical issues are worked out. This means you can talk into the system, but won’t hear anything back from that site.
The 10 Simulcast sites are:
6. Great Barrington
The 5 regional repeaters are:
1. Holyoke – Mt. Tom 1 & 2
2. Monson – Hovey 1& 2
3. Shelburne – Shelburne 1 & 2
4. Warwick – Grace 1 & 2
5. Savoy – Borden 1 & 2
To have your UHF radio properly programmed, you should have 12 channels for WMLEC as follows;
WM SIM 1 PD
WM SIM 2 FD
WM Mt. Tom 1
WM Mt. Tom 2
WM Hovey 1
WM Hovey 2
WM Grace 1
WM Grace 2
WM Shelburne 1
WM Shelburne 2
WM Borden 1
WM Borden 2
For any questions on WMLEC, contact your local communications person or send me an email here and I will be happy to help.
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Dennis Nazzaro has been a Firefighter/EMT in Western Massachusetts for over 20 years, and has worked for the Northampton Fire Department since 2004. He also works for the Department of Fire Service (DFS) Special Operations Team, and the Massachusetts Fire Academy (MFA) as an instructor. Dennis is a Communications Unit Leader and Technician (COML/COMT) for the Massachusetts Communications Unit (MACOMU) and the Northwest Massachusetts Incident Management Team (NWMIMT). He is also a member of the Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council’s Interoperable subcommittee and Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee policy and programs subcommittee. Dennis has been involved with development of the MIFOG, SCIP, MTCP as well as WMLEC expansion and working with local, regional and state communication systems.
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