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September 27, 2016
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Echoes of 9/11 in Highland

The Department of Homeland Security, formed in response to 9/11, made the initiative to put all responders on the same frequency range a priority. But it has failed to communicate adequately with localities about the matter, according to Yulan Fire Department president Jeff Haas.

The Yulan Fire Department objects to the proposal partly on financial grounds. To upgrade the equipment and shift bands would cost the county about $9 million, compared to $4 million to upgrade but stay low frequency. Furthermore, if a shift is made to high frequency, each individual fire department would have to come up with money in addition—in the case of Yulan, an estimated $40,000. As Hofaker complained, it would be, in effect, an unfunded mandate on the part of the county, similar to the unfunded mandates from the state that the county complains about.

Hofaker and other fire department personnel present also noted that the idea of fire departments communicating with police and other emergency responders directly is not in fact either necessary or in keeping with protocol; the protocol, and what they said works best, is to communicate to the various other emergency departments through their control centers. “They don’t talk directly to us and I don’t know that they ever will,” said Haas.

Boyar noted that this is properly a county, not town, matter and proposed that the board confer with the Highland Lake Fire Department and other town emergency responders, to come up with a uniform response and decide what kind of intervention with the county on behalf of all such responders might be appropriate.