FARMINGTON – The closet housing hard-wired emergency communications equipment at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department office is too small for the state’s 911 upgrade equipment due in April.

The 4-by-6-foot space houses three units on a rolling cart that has extra wire extensions so it can be moved, allowing access to other parts of the system if work is needed, sheriff’s Chief Deputy Ray Meldrum said.

The space needed for the new equipment is, at minimum, 6- by-10-feet, he said.

The new unit will be much larger and heavier than the existing system and it has to be kept stationary.

A plan will be presented to county commissioners on Tuesday, Feb. 6, to build an 8-by-15-foot addition off the back of the building to house the equipment.

Commissioner Gary McGrane of Jay had also asked that a plan to be designed to build a 20-by-40-foot addition, which is the length of the building, be presented. After looking at what needs to be done for that size addition, Meldrum said, it appears it would be too expensive.

The addition to the building would have to be built to commercial standards because it is a public building, he said.

“If we don’t do it now, we’d have to have the equipment relocated on our own and it will cost us $180,000 to relocate it,” Meldrum said. The time to do it is when the state and Verizon are getting together on a contract to install it, he said.

The additional space is needed by April 1, he added.

“We just need room,” Meldrum said. “We don’t have room for it now.”

The building that houses the sheriff’s department and emergency dispatchers is cramped and additional dispatchers are being considered once the department has to handle all 911 calls from cell phones. Those calls had gone to state police dispatchers but it will change.

It is expected that once the equipment is installed, it will need to be upgraded about every five years, he said.

Jay voters will also consider having the county dispatch its emergency communications to save money when they vote in April.

County law enforcement leaders have been saving for years to either build an addition or a new place to give them ample room for expansion of the operations.

Meldrum said the county is running out of space, not just for dispatch but for other services at the county courthouse including the registry of deeds.