Tenafly (NJ) officials discussed adding to the budget a new fire truck and hand-held radios for the fire department.
There are approximately 45 active firefighters in the department and equipping them with new radios will cost $75,000. The borough will pay 2 percent of the total cost and add $3,750 to the budget.
Fire Chief Richard Philpott said they have not bought any new pagers or radios within the last five years.
Currently, the department is working on a low frequency and searched for a higher frequency for the past two years, according to Philpott, who explained that the old frequency is low band and does not allow firefighters to communicate inside buildings.
“We’ll be at the JCC [Jewish Community Center] and you’ll see a guy down the hall and you’ll get on the radio but it’s not going to transmit,” Philpott said.
Councilman Barry Honig voiced concerns over the radios because there is no way to connect all emergency personnel under one frequency.
“What I am concerned about, and I don’t expect it to happen here, is God forbid there is a scenario like the World Trade Center, how are you going to talk to each other when you are not in the car?” Honig said.
Philpott said that, in a large and active emergency situation, there is a command center that is able to link the police department and other emergency personnel.
“You don’t want everyone on the same frequency, nobody would be able to talk,” Philpott said, adding this issue is encountered in every town.
The radios the department currently has are approximately 25-years-old and use low band frequency. When new radios come in, they will be switched to a high band frequency, which will allow communication to flow while in buildings.
Philpott asked for 50 new radios — allowing the department to fully switch over to a higher frequency. Out of those 50 radios, the department currently has 16 new radios which cannot be switched over yet because a certain number of radios must exist before switching.
“We can’t switch over until we have everyone equipped,” Philpott said.
Business Administrator Jewel Thompson-Chin said putting the cost of new radios into the budget will have a minimal impact.
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