Oct 21, 2013 11:32 AM by Ryan Haarer
TUCSON- Mt. Lemmon Fire is a small fire district with a heavy workload. Their radio system is 20 years old and a new communications system seems out of reach with a newly reduced budget.
90 percent of the patients this fire district assists are not the residents like Dennis Anderson who pay for the service.
"It just comes with the territory. We are Tucson's playground. So we need the service for us but along with that, you need to serve the public too," said Anderson.
The district's budget, paid for by property taxes, was slashed 20,000 dollars this year, 20,000 dollars that was supposed to be used to replace a 20 year old radio system.
"We're going into a new radio, dispatch system and a new computer assisted dispatch system which allows us to implement a new billing system which allows us to recoup some of the cost," said Chief Randy Ogden.
That should relieve residents from footing a visitor's entire bill. But, more importantly the system will improve efficiency and possibly patient outcomes. Chief Ogden already has one of the systems in his truck and is looking to add one to the fire engine and another in the ambulance.
"The dispatchers can push a button and give us all of our dispatch information, give us our hazard information. If we are on a scene and can't use our cell phones, this system boosts up the power and allows us to communicate with the dispatchers through an internet connection."
Dennis says the system is essential to help the nearly 1.5 million visitors to the mountain each year. Just as important is the assurance that this small district will be prepared for another catastrophe like the Aspen fire.
"The year before was the Bullock Fire which almost got us. We dodged the bullet on that. It got to the highway. So yeah we're real sensitive about fire."
The fire district is hosting a golf tournament Friday November 1st at the Forty Niner Country Club. They need golfers and donations. To learn how you can get involved visit www.mtlemmonfire.org.