OTISFIELD — Fire Chief Mike Hooker told selectmen the communications tower on Frost Hill in Norway will provide Fire Department radio communication for the north side of town, including Bolsters Mills village and beyond.

Hooker met with the board Thursday night to request $9,000 to help pay for the equipment to hook into Norway Fire Department’s communications equipment on Frost Hill. The Otisfield Fire Department will cover $5,000 of the total $14,000 cost, he said.

Norway fire Chief Dennis Yates offered the Otisfield Fire Department space on Frost Hill after Otisfield lost an opportunity to improve its radio communications capability when a plan for a tower on Scribner Hill fell through this spring.

“Whatever you need, we’ll help you get it,” Board of Selectmen Chairman Hal Ferguson said.

If all goes according to plan, equipment will be placed on the cell tower to provide expanded emergency radio coverage in Otisfield and Norway by September. Both towns will have a repeater near the top of the tower and equipment to prevent each from interfering with the other in case of dual transmissions.

Yates said he has received a $32,000 Maine Emergency Management Agency grant to pay for Norway’s equipment.

While Hooker said the system is not “perfect,” the signal will come from Frost Hill tower and shoot down the valley. There will be “shadows” in places such as Bell Hill, but until the signal is tested, it will be difficult to predict exactly where the coverage might be spotty.

Attempts to improve cell and emergency radio coverage throughout Otisfield were dashed earlier this year when U.S. Cellular pulled out of a plan to build a cell tower on Scribner Hill. The decision came after a local group of concerned residents took protracted legal action to stop the project.

The new plan will not expand cell coverage but it will provide much-needed expanded emergency communication capability in many parts of Otisfield that now have no emergency communication access.

Hooker has said that if the Scribner Hill site had gone through, there would not have been a need for the Frost Hill site.

“We don’t compromise on safety,” Ferguson said. “We need to find (the money).”

Selectmen unanimously voted to fund the $9,000 from available sources. It is expected the board will decide how to get the funds at its next meeting.

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