Fire departments along the southwest coast will soon be able to stay in constant communication with each other, and with neighboring departments.
Funding of just over $47,000 has been allocated for a repeater system and radios for fire departments between Cape Ray and Rose Blanche according to Steve Kent, the minister responsible for municipal affairs.
One repeater will be placed in Port aux Basques, and one will be located in or near Isle aux Morts.
Repeaters will pick up fire departments radio signals from one area and rebroadcast them further along the coast.
Along with the repeater system, the government is also funding the hand held and portable radios for the fire departments.
Additional funding has been set aside for solar panels on the second repeater, if the need arises.
Fire and Emergency Services NL have been working with local communities on a solution to the issue, according to Kent.
Kent said before the end of this month, he will be assisting the fire departments by acquiring the necessary communication systems to enhance emergency response and preparedness in the area.
"Once the radio communication system is in place the six fire departments in the region are prepared to move towards shared services," said Kent. "I think this is a very positive step forward in terms of ensuring public safety for the people of the southwest coast region."
Municipal fire departments all over the province are realizing the benefits of coming together and government has seen instances where it has improved services for many residents, said Kent.
"To expand a little on what that means," said Kent, "the shared services means shared cost, it allows them to pool human resources and allows them to educate residents more effectively for their personal safety."
The government will be considering accepting funding applications for trucks and equipment on a regional basis and the communities involved will have written mutual distance protocols of who responds to where, he said.
Discussions took place with the local fire departments and they are aware of this funding, said Kent.
"I applaud their efforts and want to be there to support them," said Kent. "Everyone has been so very cooperative and we are happy to do our part."
Sidney Scott, Isle aux Morts' fire chief, is very happy to hear the news. He spoke to The Gulf News earlier this year about the problem fire departments have with contacting each other during emergencies along the coast, especially since there is no cell service.
The communication issue was the main deterrent to the southwest coast's ability to regionalize the fire departments, and he said everyone is very pleased with the government's announcement.