Nova Scotia Integrated Mobile Radio System

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Integrated Mobile Radio System

The Nova Scotia Integrated Mobile Radio System (NSIMRS) is a network of 35 VHF repeater sites covering the province, providing local communications for volunteer fire departments, and acts as a back-up for provincial/municipal emergency measures organizations.

The NSIMRS, which dates from the 1980s, was originally the province's primary public safety communications system, used by fire departments, ambulance systems, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), provincial Departments of Transportation (DOT) and Natural Resources (DNR), and the Emergency Measures Organization. Each group had its own separate 'network' of repeaters at each site. The sites normally operated as standalone repeaters, however they could be linked with distant sites via microwave links.

The system had largely been deactivated in the early 2000s, with the majority of users migrating to the Nova Scotia Trunked Mobile Radio System (NSTMRS), a Motorola Type-2 SmartZone system which has since been replaced with the P25 Maritime Public Safety Radio Network (MPSRN). This led to the complete deactivation of the RCMP, ambulance, DOT and DNR repeaters, however some DOT repeaters were re-purposed as fire repeaters. It was during this period that parts of the microwave equipment began failing, rendering most of the sites as truly standalone.

In the mid-2010s, the provincial Public Safety and Field Communications Office began the process of refurbishing the NSIMRS sites. At the time, the Bell-owned and operated NSTMRS trunked system was reaching end of life, and the province began exploring options for a replacement in cooperation with the other maritime provinces, including the idea of the owning and operating their own P25 trunked system using the existing provincially-owned NSIMRS sites in Nova Scotia, along with additional new sites to be constructed.

In the end the idea of a provincially owned trunked radio system was abandoned, and the province entered a new agreement with Bell for a new trunked radio system using their infrastructure, but work had already been underway to refurbish the existing NSIMRS sites and build new ones. At all sites the existing repeater and antenna infrastructure was replaced; in some cases towers and/or equipment shelters were also replaced. A new microwave backhaul system was also put in place to once again connect the sites together when desired.

Today the NSIMRS has been expanded with new sites located at New Tusket, West Caledonia, Italy Cross (near Bridgewater), Sand River (covering western Cumberland county) and Fox Island (near Canso.) The fire network continues to see regular usage in some parts of the province by local departments, both for paging and dispatching. In other parts of the province, for example in Halifax Regional Municipality, the fire network see virtually no use as the municipal fire department has its own VHF network for paging, and conducts all operations on the trunked system. The EMO network continues to exist as a backup for provincial and municipal emergency operations, mostly as a backup to the trunked system, and therefore sees little day to day use.

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