Electrical power to a commercially owned and operated communication tower that houses an emergency radio repeater used by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen and its member fire departments likely will not be restored until the late spring, the RDOS has learned.
“The message we have received from Fortis is that work to repair electrical lines on Mount Kobau may not begin for safety reasons until after the winter season,” said Dale Kronebusch, the Regional District’s Emergency Service Supervisor.
“Accordingly, we’re taking additional steps to safeguard other power sources at the tower’s site to provide continued and uninterrupted service for our emergency radio repeater. That includes contingency plans to increase our battery back-up capacity and ensure a back-up generator is available for the site generator that will now function as the primary power source for the tower.”
Kronebusch added a new alerting system is also being installed at the site that will provide direct warning to the Regional District immediately upon the primary generator’s failure.
In mid-December 2012, heavy snowfall downed two power poles on Mount Kobau, where the communication tower is located. Auxiliary power, generated by fuel and batteries, operated until about four days later when reserves were exhausted. The emergency fire dispatch radio repeater, along with several other communication services, then went offline, a situation that was not reported to the Regional District until December 22.
“At no time were RDOS residents in danger of not having fire coverage,” said Dale Kronebusch, the Regional District’s Emergency Service Supervisor. “We build redundancies into the system to deal with such potentialities and in this case the dispatch center in Kelowna was able to contact fire departments using landlines.”
“Our intent is to learn from each situation and to make corrections where appropriate,” said Kronebusch, explaining the additional steps the Regional District is taking to secure the communication tower.
For further information, please contact Dale Kronebusch, RDOS Emergency Services Supervisor at (250) 490-4139 or firstname.lastname@example.org.