Fort Kent Fire Department uses dual paging system

FORT KENT, Maine - With Aroostook County being so rural, it can be difficult for some firefighters to receive notifications that there's a fire. Kathy McCarty spoke with the Fort Kent Fire Chief who says his department relies on a dual system to alert crews of an emergency.

Across the U.S., firefighters rely on a system that alerts them of fires and other emergencies. Most use pagers, while some rely on portable radios. Fire Chief Ed Endee says the Fort Kent Police Department dispatches Fort Kent crews using a combination of pager and cell phone alerts.

"The paging system consists of the regular two-way radio system that sends out some tones and when received by the pager that each firefighter carries, they sound a little beep and then a voice message goes out alerting them to what the incident is and where it is and how they should respond."

In addition to the pagers, the department has the ability to page into firefighters' cell phones as well.

"This is platformed off of the paging system, so it's not an independent system but rather an extension of the pagers. Everyone's cell phone would then receive a text page with an attachment, and the attachment is actually the voice message that didn't go out over the pagers. So someone that's out of range of the fire paging system may still receive the cell phone message."

The department has found there are places where the pagers work, while cell phones don't, and vice versa.

"It's a very dependable system. It was developed by and implemented for our department and North Lakes as well, and I think some others in The County, by Josh Belanger, who is a captain at North Lakes Fire Department and an IT person. So he has provided that with us and it works very well."

Endee says between the two formats, this helps to keep all their firefighters in touch and able to respond at a moment's notice.