Firefighters Not Receiving Emergency Alerts because of Radio Tower Problems

LINCOLN COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Emergency responders in the southern part of Lincoln County are having trouble getting alerts because of problems with a radio tower.

Each firefighter at Guyan River Volunteer Fire Department has a pager. When there's an emergency -- they get an alert.

However, for the past few months, they haven't been coming in very well.

“They're working to try to alleviate the problem,” Chief William Frazier said.

Frazier says the radio tower where alerts are sent from hasn't been working properly. Then after last week's storms, it wasn't working at all and nearly caused them to miss a fire.

“In the fire service every little second that you can shave off; speed is of the essence,” he said.

When Frazier heard about the fire, he rushed into work to make sure each of his volunteers got a phone call.

Then on his way to the scene he used sirens to get firefighters' attention as he passed by their homes.

“When you're talking 10 to 20 minutes, that can make a big difference in help arriving on time,” Frazier said. “We could go as far as to say it could cause somebody to lose their life.”

In that particular fire two people died, but it's hard to say whether a quicker response would have made a difference. Regardless, in many situations it could.

“It concerns me a lot because you could have people trapped in a vehicle, and we wouldn't want something bad to happen because we didn't hear where to go or what it was,” Volunteer firefighter Shelia Frazier said.

The tower also serves other emergency agencies in the southern part of the county.

The 911 center in Lincoln County has been working to fix the tower. It is currently back up and running, but because Chief Frazier fears it's only a temporary fix, he's recommending a back-up plan for times when the tower isn't working.

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