Volunteer firefighters in Roane County taking donations to pay f

Volunteer firefighters in Roane County taking donations to pay for new alert system

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By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KINGSTON (WATE) - Members of the East Roane County Volunteer Fire Department collected donations at several road blocks across the county Saturday in an effort to pay for their new dispatch system. 

They bought it at a price tag of nearly $2200, and now they need help paying for it.

The captain of the department tell us the new system was necessary when it comes to the safety of Roane County residents.

They previously used a pager system, which means when someone dialed 911, dispatch sent a message to the firefighter's pagers.

But they tell us that sometimes, that page never came through.

"Living out in this area, geographically speaking, it's very hilly and a lot of times the signal doesn't reach down into the valleys to trip our pagers," said Cpt. Andrew Murray, of the East Roane County Volunteer Fire Department.

The new system is called Fire Text Response.

The computer now installed at the fire station converts calls into text messages.

"It has an antenna on a tower that receives the information and then actually sends it right to our cell phones," said Murray.

Once they receive that text message on their phone, they respond to it to let the other firefighters know they got it.

They say that helps them maximize their manpower, because they can keep track of one another right there on their cell phones.

Murray says in it's first week in use, they haven't missed a single call.

"It should be able to fill in that gap so that everyone gets the call so that we have enough personnel to deal with whatever emergency it may be," said Murray.

Responding to fire is now much easier.

"The officers such as me, if we're riding in the engine, we can see on our screen who's responding, where they're responding, that way if we miss something on the radio, it's right there on our phone," said Murray.

It also cuts down on their response time, so they can start battling the blaze a lot faster.  

Area residents say they like the sound of that.

"When a fire starts in your home, you want them to be contacted immediately and to be able to respond immediately," said Jeff Wicks, of Roane County.

Those in the firefighting business know that every moment counts.

"Just a few seconds, whether it's one minute per call or 30 seconds per call, could mean the difference in us being able to save your house or your pet or your family member rather than not getting there in time because we may have not gotten the call or had a member close that would have responded but didn't because they didn't know what was going on," said Murray.

The department hoped to raise enough money Saturday to pay off the full cost of the system.

To contact or donate to the East Roane County Fire Department, call 865-376-4170 or visit their website, http://www.eastroanefire.org/.

They are located at 853 New Midway Drive in Kingston.

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