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Fire companies begin switching to county-wide numbering system

WESTON, LUZERNE COUNTY; POTTSVILLE, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) -- After years of using their own numbering systems, fire companies are now switching to the county-wide, unified, system. This comes after Schuylkill County leaders mandated that changes be made in the interest of public safety. In this Eyewitness News follow up we catch up with the first fire company to get on board.


Engine 582 will soon be known as 19-10. Nuremberg-Weston Volunteer Fire Company is the first of 46 fire companies to make the numbering change. More than half of the fire companies in Schuylkill County have already been using the county-wide system for years. But for those stragglers -- the word is out-- make the switch.


"For us it's not really a big deal.  Operationally, we're not changing a lot, all we have to do is call with a different sign in number when we talk to 911 center," said Asst. Fire Chief David Sobolewski.

The problem is that with different fire companies and departments using their own systems, dispatchers sometimes didn't know who was where - or who to call for back-up to an initial call-out.

The unified numbering system groups dispatch numbers by location. In Weston it's district 19. Then each chief, or engine, or other equipment gets a second set of numbers.

Nuremberg-Weston Volunteer Fire Company sits on county lines,  but it's dispatched by Schuylkill County. Firefighters here must also be familiar with Luzerne County numbers -- as it's a different system.

"It may be a little confusing in the short term, but in the long term it may help the 911 center actually get the right resources to the right people in the right time," said Sobolewski.

Firefighters are now being trained on the new system at weekly meetings. For many, the old numbers -- a source of local pride.... making the change a hard pill to swallow. But these numbers aren't coming off vehicles just yet.


"We don't have the money in the budget to change the numbers on every truck here so it will be a process over the next couple years," said Sobolewski.

 

By March 15 Nuremberg-Weston  will be done switching to the new system. The remaining fire companies still operating under their old numbering system have until the end of June to make the switch.


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