New Brunswick

New cell tower in Elgin will save lives, says fire chief

A petition to bring a cell tower to Elgin, N.B., has paid off, and the fire chief says improved communication will save lives.

Some 911 calls in the past didn't go through

There is a new cell tower in Elgin, N.B., after the community launched a petition in 2018. (Andre Goggin/Bell Canada)

A petition to bring a cell tower to Elgin, N.B., has paid off, and the fire chief says improved communication will save lives.

Kent Steeves, the fire chief in the village 60 kilometres west of Moncton, said spotty cell reception in the past meant some calls to 911 didn't go through, or were dropped before first responders could gather the information they needed.

But he is optimistic that a new cell tower put up by Bell will solve the problem.

Steeves said up to 300 community members supported a petition in 2018. It was sent to cellphone companies and the provincial government to ensure 911 service for the area.

Kent Steeves, the fire chief in Elgin, N.B., says better access to cell and internet service in the community will save lives. (Submitted by Kent Steeves)

He said some in the community have experienced a few technical issues with the new service. But he said the community overall appreciates the increased accessibility. 

Improved cell and internet service also addresses concerns about emergency services.

Steeves said snowmobiling, hiking, canoeing, rafting and off-roading are common in the area.

"So there's a lot of those things going on in our area that's caused us some concern over the years because of calls that we would get where someone was trapped in the woods and didn't have cell service to get out." 

He said time is critical when searching for someone. Knowing where to look can make all the difference.

"So that's really going to cut down on the wait-time for people to try to get out," he said.

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