The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

April 3, 2013

Trustee: Can’t afford warning system

By Sandy Scarmack
Herald Staff Writer

BROOKFIELD — Brookfield trustees tabled a decision about buying an emergency warning system after a debate Monday between Phil Schmidt and Fire Chief Keith Barrett.

The Code Red system makes use of e-mail, text-messaging, cell phones, land lines and websites to deliver site-specific warnings about everything from severe weather and boil-water advisories to viral outbreaks and terroristic threats, according to Barrett, who thinks the $10,000 system could be put to great use in protecting residents.

For those who sign up, alerts for every possible emergency can be sent in whatever format subscribers want. For example, Barrett said, there have already been two alerts to boil water this year, as well as a litany of severe weather warnings.

“We can use it to look for missing children or the elderly who wander off from nursing homes. We have two nursing homes in the township. I think this is a valuable service that all residents can benefit from,” he said.

He mentioned specifically the weather warnings that come in the middle of the night. “In some places where they have this, people aren’t awake to get the 3 a.m. warnings. This might wake someone and save a life,” he said.

Barrett said the township has one siren and “it’s been shown that sirens don’t warn enough people. Not everyone can hear them, he said.

He said the system is something the township “could grow into,” he said. The $10,000 is for a three-year contract, he added.

Schmidt, who said he thinks all those services and warnings are already available to the public via the newspaper, television, radio and Internet, doesn’t think the township can afford it.

“Are we awash in money suddenly? We are short on police, short on firefighters and we’re not hardly paving any roads. For $10,000, we could do some paving,” Schmidt said.

Trustees Gary Lees and Ron Haun, who, along with Barrett, met with a Code Red salesman in February together encouraged Schmidt to review the information before making a decision.

“I’m familiar with it. I’ve read it. And I’ll look it over again. But I won’t change my mind. Do what you guys want, but I’m voting no. I think it’s a duplication of services,” he said.