By Tammy Helm
Fort Scott Tribune – July 19, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – July 30, 2014
Fort Scott Fire Chief Paul Ballou, Bourbon County Emergency manager William Wallis and Bourbon County Emergency Manager Assistant Shane Walker attended the County Commissioner’s meeting to discuss communication upgrades and issues regarding the Garland Fire Department.
Ballou said the Garland Fire Department has installed repeaters.
“We’ve run into one major problem that we’re all going to need to address,” Ballou said. “Right now, I think in dispatch we don’t have room to run another frequency, which is what they’re going to be running on.”
He said he thinks by using a “control head,” he can accommodate that issue by using a frequency that is not frequently used.
“But I’ve had conversations with them, and right now they’re going to be operating basically on their own,” Ballou said.
He said the other systems used by the other departments also don’t have access for an additional frequency. He said he spoke about the issue with Connie May, Garland Fire District Board member.
“But since then, the company we’re working with now, with the city and county communication, think they can make this work, like we originally planned to do,” Ballou said. “This company that put it in said there’s a possibility we’ll have some problems, so they want three frequencies. But the company we have now is just the opposite. They say we can make it work.”
Wallis said there is a problem with Garland having its own frequency.
“They decided to go on their own,” Wallis said. “The problem is, by being on their own frequency, that’s where they stand. Being on their own frequency, dispatch can and has gotten a hold of them, and they’ve responded numerous times and varying times, daytime, night time and so forth. But the problem is, by trying to say they can respond on their own frequency is, if they respond to a fire and they need backup, they’re not going to get it, because they cannot respond, they cannot send that back.”
“We can’t go three frequencies on pagers and stuff and the trucks don’t have room for three frequencies,” Walker said. “And that’s what we told them.”
Wallis said currently there is an automatic mutual aid agreement between Garland and Fort Scott Township. Under the agreement, both departments will automatically respond to each other’s calls.
“Garland does get reception, they do receive calls, because they have responded to calls,” Wallis said. “What Paul is talking about is this new business that has the technology, we haven’t wanted to start throwing money at this thing–this has been a situation since the beginning of the year–we haven’t wanted to just write a blank check, throwing money at this thing and hopefully we’ll find a piece of equipment that’s going to work. No. We’re not going to work like that.
“This company that Paul has contracted with, that he has found out of Topeka, has the technology and has the proper equipment that can be installed where everybody can be on the same frequency as one big team instead of someone that is operating independently.”
Wallis said during Tuesday’s Local Emergency Planning Committee meeting, there was discussion about having fire chiefs’ meetings again. The meetings were held prior to the organization of the LEPC.
“Between Paul and Shane, they’ve said they’ve had great response,” Wallis said. “Good communication and good understanding across the county as far as things like this radio situation, training and basically trying to put all departments on the same sheet of music so everybody sees what’s going on, everybody understands what’s going on and it will be orchestrated through this meeting, down through all the fire chiefs, and that’s the only people invited to this meeting–all the fire chiefs.”
He said another need for organizing chiefs’ meetings again is because after the new communication equipment is installed, each truck will have to be checked to determine if the system is working correctly.
Walker said he has tested five radios and pagers, which all work–just sometimes not well.
“Just at varying degrees, static and so on,” Walker said. “If you’re on a cell phone down that hill, forget it. Cell phones don’t work down there. The big problem is any time you’re in front of a building.”
He said he and Ballou took the same type of radios being used by Garland and discovered they did not work while used in front of the department’s metal building. But they did work when used down the street.
Warren said a new tower is being erected in that area, and Walker said another new tower is to be installed in the Uniontown area.
“I think we’re making progress,” Ballou said. “This is a little bit of a setback, but in order to keep communication going, we’ll try to accommodate everyone.”
Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster