Hummelstown Fire Department officials voice safety concerns with Dauphin County paging system

HUMMELSTOWN, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. --  Fire officials in Dauphin County are questioning how safe their paging systems are.

Deputy Fire Chief of Hummelstown Fire Department,  Leland Blough, says the pagers they use, requires them to look down and read fire calls, sometimes while driving, making them unsafe. 

The pagers were a 35 million dollar investment, purchased in 2010 by Dauphin County.

"You’re not allowed to text and drive which is great, but that’s putting us at risk, we gotta pick up our pagers and look at them, to me that was a step backwards," said Blough. 

Blough says the paging system his department uses, doesn’t have a voice command the way the old one’s did.

“Alerts used to go out when you opened it up as a box forty six one box such and such with the address, I could hear it," said Blough.

He says there isn’t always an option to pull over when a fire comes through.

“When we get a call and go out, we want to come back alive," said Blough.

According to Blough, he has voiced his concerns to the county in the past with no luck.

FOX43 reached out to Dauphin County officials for comment and they replied with the following statement: 

“With input from fire, police and EMS providers, Dauphin County implemented a new radio system in 2010 – an investment of $35 million, 50% of which funded the cost of the radios and pagers. While the current system is working well, we’re always looking for ways to make enhancements as technology changes. Recently, Dauphin County began offering a free service that allows first responders to receive pager texts on their cell phones so they can get messages on multiple devices and use the voice option if they choose. Hummelstown Fire Company uses this service.  A new voice alert system would be an additional significant investment by the county and municipalities for the equipment - about $700 per pager. Public safety is a priority for us, and we’ll continue to look at viable options to enhance our system.”  - Steve Libhart, Dauphin County Public Safety Department Director.

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