MALONE — Blaring tones barked from laptops every few seconds, cutting the silence in a conference room at the Franklin County Emergency Services Center.
“It’s gotten so we don’t even hear it anymore,” laughed Deputy Director John Bashaw II from among the rows of neatly stacked little boxes that sat on a table beside him.
Bashaw and communications specialists Jamie Gratton and Sandi Dunn created the piercing sound over and over for two days as they programmed each of the 788 new high-band-frequency pagers that will be distributed to firefighters in northern Franklin County.
The new system has been six years in the making and is intended to streamline and improve communications among fire departments, specially trained personnel and the dispatch center.
ONLINE IN MAY
It will also eliminate the clash of pager tone-outs with dispatcher communications when the system becomes operational around the first week in May.
Signals will be bounced among seven repeater sites in Dickinson, Duane, Malone, Chateaugay, Bangor, Westville and Bombay.
Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake firefighters have a separate paging system, using microwave-repeater sites at towers in Malone, Perry Hill, Reynoldston and Chateaugay.
The changeover will allow dispatchers to page all personnel with the push of one button should a large-scale incident occur.
They will also be able to target pages to an individual or handful of people assigned to one of the agency’s specialized teams, such as hazardous-materials response or Fire Police.
The equipment used for the existing paging system dates back to 1967, “before pagers were even invented,” said Emergency Services Director Ricky Provost.
Modifications have been made in the past 15 or 20 years to blend in new technology, but it has grown too expensive and much harder to find replacement parts for the antiquated system.