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Keweenaw County gets new fire paging system

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yooperinco

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http://www.mininggazette.com/stories/articles.asp?articleID=3524

Keweenaw County gets new fire paging system
Telephone lines no longer used

CAPTION: Kayla Gahagan/Daily Mining Gazette

Shown above, the Keweenaw County Sheriff Department radios that are used for communication among enforcement agencies and Negaunee Regional Dispatch.

By KAYLA GAHAGAN, DMG Writer

EAGLE RIVER — It’s a bad day when phone lines go down and Negaunee Regional dispatch can’t reach local law enforcement for emergencies.

It’s been known to happen to the fire department in Keweenaw County, says Sheriff Ron Lahti, when beavers have chewed on phone lines or the power goes down.

But thanks to a new fire paging system, bad days should now be far and few between because the county has switched its fire paging system from traditional phone lines to frequencies transmitted over radios to 800 megahertz towers.

“It’s a state-of-the-art fire paging system, one of the first of it’s kind in the U.P.,” Lahti said.

Before, the county and its six fire departments shared its paging system with Houghton County and its 13 fire departments. There were also three medical responder units on top of that, he said.

Before, if someone dialed 911, it rang to Negaunee, who used a phone line fire paging system. Now, a 911 call still rings into Negaunee, but it is instead dispatched on a 800 megahertz backbone to a VHF antenna on a tower in Gratiot Lake. The antenna converts it to a signal that can be transmitted to one of four receivers appropriate to a particular fire department.

The towers include Gratiot, East Bluff near Copper Harbor, Eagle Harbor Cutoff Road and Centennial Heights.

Each tower has its own power supply in case the power is out, which was not the case before, added Richard Powers of the Copper Harbor Fire Department.

“The phone lines were subject to all sorts of problems — power outages, beavers, technical problems, weather and natural occurrences,” he said. “One of our biggest problems was an extended power outage.”

“It’s an outstanding thing,” he continued. “For many years up here we fooled around with inadequate communication systems. it works really well.”

The new system also saves money, Lahti said.

The county was paying $722 a month for the phone lines.

“You add that up and it’s a lot,” he said.

The fire departments were also able to keep all the radios they were using after they were adjusted for the new frequency.

Jack Dueweke, emergency services coordinator for Houghton and Keweenaw County said the project was funded through Homeland Security grants and cost more than $100,000. He said it’s a great thing for emergency services in Keweenaw County.

“It’s got better penetration, it has better reach geographically and it covers the whole county,” he said. “It’s revamped and revitalized the system.”

Lahti and Powers said they are both excited about the change it has made in radio reception.

“It was a win-win situation for Keweenaw County,” Lahti said. “This system has so many benefits to us. For one of the smallest counties, it was kind of neat to be able to step forward with the system.”



Kayla Gahagan can be reached at kgahagan@mininggazette.com
 

Hoofy

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It's the same frequency they have been using. 154.31 FM.

All VFD's in Keweenaw county use the same frequency. The First Responders in the county get paged out on the 800mhz band but use vhf sometimes when the 800 won't work for them.


It gets very confusing when multiple agencies are paged out because they seem to stay on their own TG instead of going to a common one. I've heard four different agencies talking on four different TGs trying to find out where everyone else is or what they're doing.

""“It’s got better penetration, it has better reach geographically and it covers the whole county,” he said. “It’s revamped and revitalized the system.”"" This part is mostly ' B.S.'
 
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firephotographer50

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Hoofy said:
The First Responders in the county get paged out on the 800mhz band but use vhf sometimes when the 800 won't work for them.

Quick question on paging and an 800mhz system: I had heard that pager systems for 800 have not been developed and departments had to use vhf pager systems plus their 800 TG. Is it now possible to page over 800 and, if it is, are the tones used similar to what is used with conventional vhf systems?

Thanks.
 

ffexpCP

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It sounds like to me that each of the traditional (VHF analog) tower sites just repeat what is sent over 800 from dispatch.
 

Hoofy

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I'm not sure what is going on with the 800 paging but I think from what I've been hearing that with these small FDs they may be reprograming the 800 portables so that dispatch can activate the private call ring as a pager tone.

Negaunee tests on 800 and calls it a pager test but I've never heard a tone during these tests however the reply is always on 800.

A radio tech from Kenwood spent several days here working with a local FD and reprogramed all their portables after extensive testing with Negaunee.
 
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