EMERGENCY RESPONSE Weathersfield seeks assurances on alert system

SBC told township leaders they believe the problem has been corrected.
MINERAL RIDGE -- Eighteen months after its installation, a new radio alerting system for the police is working, but the fire department phone lines are not.
Trustees said Tuesday they are working with SBC to try to get phone lines working that transmit emergency radio signals to firefighters. New equipment and phone lines for the fire department cannot be used because the phone lines are considered unreliable.
Township Administrator David Pugh said the company has said a problem at the central office that apparently affected the township's phone lines has been corrected.
The township, however, has asked for an e-mail or letter from the company to say that the problem has been corrected, and told SBC to have their people in the field checking connections to be sure there are no more problems.
"We want it in writing," Pugh said. "We know there are going to be failures. We hope to hear from them this week."
Pugh said the company sent in a customer service representative in January to work on the problem after months of not being able to get the phone lines working for fire department calls.
Pugh said that because of the "high risk of liability," he could not turn on the fire department lines knowing they were not working correctly.
Getting by
In the meantime, township residents have been able to call for police or fire assistance using the Trumbull County 911 system, which dispatches calls to the police department.
The 911 fire calls are dispatched to Lane Ambulance at its main branch in Austintown, Trustee Chairman Fred Bobovnyk said.
Calls are screened by Lane to determine the nature of the emergency.
Pugh said the new system will be designed to do the following: Trumbull County 911 transmits a message over the phone line to a repeater. There are four receivers in the township that pick up township radio signals, and those receivers send everything back to a comparator, or a motor. The receivers pick the best signal, which is then sent out over the phone lines to page firefighters.
Footing the bill
Trustee John Vogel is critical of the two other trustees for continuing to pay a monthly $1,500 charge to SBC for the phone lines when they aren't being used. He said the township has paid a total of $60,000 for parts of the system that didn't work over the past 18 months, but Pugh said the charge for the fire lines not used is actually between $27,000 and $30,000.
Bobovnyk said the problems with the SBC lines may lead to litigation.
During a meeting Tuesday, residents James Sweeney and James Squires were both critical of trustees for paying the $1,500 monthly charge.
Bobovnyk said a complaint was filed by the township in November 2004 with the Public Utilities Commission on the matter.
Vogel said the township had the option from the beginning not to pay half the bill under its contract until the problem was solved.

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