Summerside firefighters have boosted their power to communicate.
The city's fire services updated its mobile radio equipment in each truck and the base station equipment at Station 1 and Summerside Police Services.
New radio equipment was up and running in mid-February. The department also acquired 24 new portable radios, which will work with the 10 older models, and a VHF signal repeater was installed alongside a generator.
It all adds up to a communications system with twice as much broadcasting power as the previous set-up, to make sure the firefighters don’t lose touch in an emergency.
“(The former system) was pretty old and outdated. City council is always supportive, and they gave us the green light for a new radio system,” said Summerside Fire Chief Ron Enman. “We have a pretty impressive radio system now.”
When responding to an emergency, firefighters first hear the call on pagers. The department sends information using a cell-phone app, as a back-up.
“When dispatch pages us out at the police station, it comes over the (pager) radio. Then they type in through the IamResponding (IaR) app and we get a typed message as well," so we get two,” said Enman.
The newly-boosted analog VHF (very high frequency) signal is used by the radios as well as the pagers.
The radios will carry the department into the future as well, said Enman. While the system is analog right now, the department invested in equipment that also works with digital broadcasting.
Improving communications became a priority after the old system proved unreliable during post-tropical storm Dorian.
“It was just kind of sporadic,” said Enman. “(Radios) went out a couple times and we were using cell phones and different things like that. During an event like that, there were a lot of systems down ... right across the province.”
A spokesperson for the City of Summerside said the cost of the new equipment was estimated at about $43,000.
On Monday, Firefighters used their new equipment at a training exercise and Deputy Chief Clay Moase said the new radios worked great.
“They definitely improved communications,” said Moase. “It makes it easier for incident command to get information and relay information.”