People in Stuartburn are demanding better cell phone service to ensure public safety as they head into fire season.

Reeve Jim Swidersky said the spotty cell service has put residents in danger and will continue to do so.

Last year,several rural Manitoba communities were evacuated because of grass and wild fires, and Swidersky said the RM had trouble reaching some residents because of poor cell service.

He had a consultant look into the matter. He found it would cost more than $11 million to improve service, and MTS has said it’s not willing to make the improvements.

Now Swidersky says he is desperate.

"Emergencies can happen out here in the southeast. Right now in Vita, we don’t have an ER, and everybody’s being transported right now to Steinbach or Winnipeg," said Swidersky. "So it’s crucial when we can’t contact emergency services."

He said the community is now heading into another fire season, and the need for better service is on everyone’s mind.

"We’re staunch and very stern that we’re going to still propose it to governments. As long as they keep listening to us, we’ll keep knocking on their doors and chanting the same word, that it’s important," he said.

Swidersky has a meeting with Winnipeg-based MP Shelly Glover later this month to try and garner federal support for his requests.