Police and firefighters in Niles and Weathersfield who once had difficulties communicating with dispatchers because of the landscape will no longer have those problems.
Officials dedicated a new tower and communications system on Monday that will enable communications in spots that used to be a dead zone.
“The day they turned the tower on it was like we went from the dark ages to recent years,” said Weathersfield Fire Chief Randall Pugh. “It was a real change in the safety for the firefighters.”
The tower was paid for in part by a $495,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice secured by U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles.
Ryan said he used his role on the House Appropriations Committee to secure the grant despite cuts in the federal budget through sequestration.
“We were able to get this grant to help support Niles and Weathersfield to keep Trumbull County safe,” Ryan said. “If you don’t have safety, you don’t’ have economic development. So this is fundamental.”
Collaboration between the two communities is also important, officials said. The dispatch centers will now be each other’s backup if a system is inoperable. Weathersfield calls are handled by the Trumbull County 911 Center, while Niles has its own dispatching center.
Officials said there were two specific dead spots in the area: inside the Eastwood Mall and at the Interstate-80 interchange at Salt Springs Road.
“Of course all those truck stops are around there and to talk from portable from around that area was absolutely impossible,” Pugh said.