P.E.I. fire chief frustrated by cell outages during Dorian

A number of P.E.I. fire departments struggled to communicate to their members during the height of post-tropical storm Dorian on the weekend, because most routes of communication were down.

Alberton fire Chief Shannon Dumville said landlines, internet and cell service were all down. The only way he could communicate with his firefighters was VHF radio, which lacks the range of other services.

During the 16 hours when most communications were down the department went on five calls. On some of those calls they were short-staffed, because members couldn't be reached by VHF radio.

Dumville said the additional problem is if the department can't reach members, people in trouble might not be able to reach the department.

"If you're at home and something were to happen, you needed help, with all these services now it's hard to get the call out," he said.

Dumville said it might be wise for the province to invest in an Island-wide paging system.

Province-wide system shut down

Just a few months ago the province did have a province-wide paging system.

It was operated by Bell, but the company shut it down on July 2, citing declining usage. It said most users had moved away from pager services, and that it was continually upgrading its wireless technology.

The issue was raised in the legislature on July 3, and Public Safety Minister Bloyce Thompson said many fire departments had already upgraded their paging systems, and there was money available for those that still needed to.

"There is funding through Minister [Jamie] Fox's department, through Communities, and we are working with those to help them get that funding together to get their systems upgraded," said Thompson.

The province has not responded to CBC's request for comment.

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