Local fire departments will face a considerable expense in switching over to the province’s new emergency communications system which is set to come into use next summer. Premier Brian Pallister this week told municipal leaders that the province is paying all of the $380 million it will cost to build the new system plus the annual operating costs.
But Steinbach Fire Chief Kel Toews says local fire departments must still buy new radios for the system. He adds Steinbach currently uses 13 of the old Fleetnet radios and it will be expensive to replace them.
“Fleetnet radios won’t work on the new system so we have replace the radios. The final pricing is not out yet but could be anywhere between $4,000 and $6,000 per radio.”
Hanover Fire Chief Paul Wiebe says they currently have more than 20 Fleetnet radios among their four fire departments, so they estimate the changeover will cost the municipality over $100,000.
La Broquerie Fire Chief Alain Nadeau says they currently have nine Fleetnet radios but expects they will only be buying two or three of the new ones because of the cost. However, he adds they are looking forward to considerably better communications capabilities, especially in remote parts of the municipality.
“The new digital technology will be way better for us and they are also putting up more towers. For us, the new (cell phone) towers in Vita, Zhoda and Woodridge have already made a big difference, but with digital emergency radios now, it will be even better.”