Going digital: Port Fire Dept. leaving analogue behind
Port Colborne The Leader

With a new digital emergency dispatch service on the horizon in Niagara, the older analogue system still used in Port Colborne will have to be scrapped.

The changeover comes during a time of major shifts for the city’s fire department, as the St. Catharines Fire Service has notified Port Colborne that it will no longer provide them with dispatch service at the end of 2022. The new digital system is expected to be up and running by March 2024, leaving the city with a year-long gap.

In a report from the city’s fire chief, Scott Lawson, presented at city hall during the council meeting on July 26, the recommendation was to make the switch to digital in order to make sure the city is prepared for the eventual switchover.

“This is a no-brainer. Let’s move forward; let’s keep our community safe,” said Ward 3 Coun. Frank Danch.

While council was in favour of making the switch from analogue to digital, Lawson said the bigger issue is who is on the other end of the line making the emergency dispatch calls.

“My concern is who our dispatching service is coming from,” said Lawson, who noted there are three different options floating around, but one which he’d prefer to see come to fruition. “The one we’re in favour of is a (Niagara) Region-owned and -operated system.”

Some councillors suggested ditching the city’s analogue system ahead of the Dec. 31, 2022 cut-off date, but Lawson said he’d prefer to wait and see what the Niagara Region decides to do in terms of consolidating Niagara’s emergency dispatch services into a single system.


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