“Can you hear me now?”

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Let’s say you are a volunteer firefighter fighting a blaze at a home in your community.  You see the blaze flare up in yet another area and get on your radio to call dispatch for backup.

Wait, there is a problem. Dispatch can’t hear you because your outdated system isn’t reaching the central station.

What do you do?

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Unfortunately this situation is neither far fetched nor uncommon.

John Odle, with the Henleyfield Volunteer Fire Department, said that communication issues are a daily struggle when they are out fighting fires.

“Recently we were fighting a fire at the Wildlife Management Area and there was poor communication with the dispatch center. It happened again when we were fighting a house fire in Crossroads. When our communication equipment doesn’t work, we are unable to call for help,” Odle said.

Recently, some repeater towers in the county were being replaced,  allowing the department to try a new Motorola system.

“Our current equipment is 10-15 years old,” Odle said. “The new system we tried during the tower replacements was as clear as a bell. This let us know that it is time for a change in our equipment.”

To fund this change, the department has earmarked proceeds from its annual fish fry to go towards the purchase of new equipment.

Odle said even if the department receives grants, they still must raise $30,000 for the new equipment. Without the grants, they would need to raise more than $50,000.

“We currently have some of the best equipment in the county for a volunteer fire department,” Odle said. “We have maintained this all with community support, but we know this communication system is a big amount to try to fund.”

Odle says his department is kicking off the fundraising effort with the annual Fish Fry which will be held this Saturday, April 12, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Henleyfield Fire Station on Hwy. 43 N.

The fish plates will be sold for  $12 and chicken plates will be sold for  $10.

“Our goal is to sell out of fish and chicken,” Odle said.

The event will double as a recruitment drive.

“We are always looking for new members so this gives us an opportunity to meet potentially interested people and let them know more about the department,” Odle said.

For more information about the fish fry or the Henleyfield Volunteer Fire Department call 601-799-5887.