CALCUTTA - Firefighters in St. Clair Township say calling the two departments' emergency numbers is better than dialing 911.
That was the message given by Calcutta Assistant Fire Chief Dave McCoy to township trustees on Tuesday.
He emphasized it was still acceptable for residents to call 911 but warned that doing so could delay the departments' response by 5 to 12 minutes.
Presenting the Calcutta department's yearly report, McCoy said although both his department and Glenmoor were "still on board" with the county 911 system, both prefer that residents use each department's respective emergency numbers, 330-386-5311 for Calcutta and 330-385-5627 for Glenmoor.
"We still prefer they use the number to dial direct to the emergency fire because of the delay that's still involved with the 911 (system)," said McCoy. "You've got a 5-12 minute delay that still happens in the time the 911 center gets the call and it's relayed to our dispatch and our tone-out. We're not saying don't use 911. If that's all you've got, absolutely. It does work, there's just a delay there and they're working on it."
McCoy explained the county's 911 system is made up five public safety answering points or PSAPs which are essentially call centers set up for answering a designated area's emergency calls.
The Calcutta and Glenmoor departments' PSAP is located at the East Liverpool police station.
When an emergency call comes in, East Liverpool dispatchers call each fire departments' dispatch and relay the message.
If dispatchers at the East Liverpool PSAP are already dealing with another emergency call, they are forced to choose which call takes priority thereby potentially further delaying emergency calls to the township's fire departments, McCoy said.
McCoy advised that residents keep each department's emergency number posted somewhere in their homes. He noted that the Calcutta department still has stickers with the department's emergency number on them and township residents can stop by the station and get them for free any Monday night.