HOLDEN, Maine — There are certain areas of town where radio signals are weak, and areas in nearby Eddington and Clifton where there simply is no signal at all, Fire Chief Jim Ellis says.
“On the backside of Holden, it’s iffy at best,” he said Thursday. “We have very limited radio service basically from the Eddington Fire Station east” along Route 9.
Eddington and Holden are emergency-aid partners, and Eddington provides fire coverage for Clifton, so having good communication in the entire region is key to providing good service, said Ellis, who also serves as Eddington’s fire chief.
“This has become a routine operating challenge for us,” he said. “We’ve looked for ways to improve that” and have recently acquired a second repeater to strengthen the signal in the outlying areas. A repeater receives radio signals, then retransmits them.
The plan is to install the second repeater on top of a cell phone tower on Chick Hill in Clifton, but before that can be done, a $3,000 study needs to be done to ensure the radio and cell signals don’t interfere with each other.
“They’re willing to give us the space [on the tower] but are requiring the town to pay for a study,” Ellis said.
The plan is to have Holden and Eddington split the cost, he said.
Ellis will present the project to Holden selectmen Monday and to Eddington selectmen at a later date.
“The mutual-aid towns of Brewer, Eddington, Holden and Orrington … purchased a repeater that was placed on Copeland Hill and it did improve our radio reception,” Ellis said. “If we are in the line of sight with Copeland Hill” the signal is good.
“North sloped areas, hillsides are a bad spot for transmissions,” he said, adding “scratchy radio traffic” is commonplace.
Holden Assistant Chief Andy Emery has been working with officials from Penobscot Region Communications Center to find a solution to the radio strength problem.
“We’ve looked at a number of different solutions in concert with PRCC,” Ellis said. “This was our most economical solution.”