Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Cook to upgrade fire department equipment, pagers

Marcus White
Posted 9/5/18

COOK – The fire department here is set to get a host of new equipment along with a communications systems overhaul in the coming months.

At the city council meeting last Thursday fireman Shane …

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Cook to upgrade fire department equipment, pagers

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COOK – The fire department here is set to get a host of new equipment along with a communications systems overhaul in the coming months.

At the city council meeting last Thursday fireman Shane Johnson approached the council with concerns that six sets of gear were 15 to 20 years old, far exceeding the prescribed lifetime and compliance of the equipment.

“It needs to be thrown away,” Johnson told the council. “It is a $900 fine from OSHA if they are found near the crews.”

Johnson noted the helmet he used was upwards of 40 years old.

To upgrade the six sets of gear, mainly in use by the department’s older members, along with some extra helmets and headlamps will cost the department $11,790.

City administrator Theresa Martinson said the department had the money on hand and recommended the council approve the purchase.

The motion passed unanimously.

Johnson also approached the council with a plan to upgrade the departments pager system to the federal First Net system administered by AT&T.

“It is a better line of communication for us,” he said. “Most (of the department) are using the pager system through their phone. What the new phones allows us to is see where everyone is and permit push to talk.”

The program uses secured smartphones that receive priority signals over standard cell data traffic. It also allows for GPS location to see exactly where any of the departments members are at any given time, including on a call.

Johnson said this was advantageous since first responders aren’t always able to answer a radio page when performing tasks such as pumping water or trying to safely enter a structure.

Additionally, the push-to-talk feature of the phones will render the department’s radio needless, which Johnson said isn’t necessarily a bad thing since large portions of the department’s response area does not have adequate signal anyway.

He said he believed the program will eventually become mandated by lawmakers and by adopting early, the department would be able to save money to the city.

Johnson said the department members were willing to pay for their own phones, which would cost as low as $100 if purchased as a group, provided the city pay for half the cost of the plans.

The phones cost over $2,00 when purchased individually.

Martinson said Johnson’s proposal was realistic and the city should consider it since a future mandate would require the city to pay the total cost of the phones and the associated plans.

She added the city still should look at putting an official policy in play going forward to address how the city and fire department will handle plan increases and new member additions to the department in the future.

Johnson noted while some county municipalities had partially rolled out the program, such as Duluth, Cook would be the first department to fully implement it in the region.

The council also approved the measure unanimously.

Bridge update

John Jamnick with JPJ Engineering gave an update to the council on the River Street Bridge replacement.

Jamnick said the bridge work had not faced any delays and was on track to be completed by the end of October.

He said the company has worked with the lumber yard on River Street to address any concerns the project might have on the business.

Martinson added that residents on the north side of town had felt the inconvenience, but were understanding of the necessity of the work.

Other business

 The council dismissed a variance application by Shirley Lange. Lange criticized the city for taking too long to act on her family’s request to put in a garage on the property after her neighbor raised concerns about drainage impacts. Martinson said the city was doing its due diligence in making sure all of the town’s residents had a voice.

Lange said the family would now pursue building the structure on their son’s land, which is outside of the city’s jurisdiction.

 The council approved a resolution to restrict private alcohol sales to ensure revenue streams into the city-owned liquor store.

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