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FirstNet Authority Senior Public Safety Advisor Gary McCarraher sits at table across from Chief Charles Doody of the Canton Fire Department in Massachusetts.

Small Town Fire Department Augments Radio Comms with FirstNet Devices

March 11, 2020

Approximately 15 miles south of Boston, Massachusetts sits Canton – a small community of 21,000 people. Chief Charles Doody is the Chief of the Canton Fire Department, a 54-member organization providing hazardous materials, emergency medical services, and fire suppression services to the residents of Canton. The Canton Fire Department recently migrated to FirstNet, and I sat down with him to discuss the benefits the network provides to his firefighters.

Chief Doody said that, as a small town, communication over portable radios can be a challenge. Parts of Canton have poor signal quality that impacts communications, and while this has not posed a serious problem yet, he recognizes the potential if his crew does not have a solution. He made the decision to transition to FirstNet to provide additional coverage and fill the gaps in town where traditional portable radios do not work. Now, when firefighters are in a building where radio signals are poor, they can turn to their FirstNet devices.

“It was amazing they could be in a building and pull up their land mobile radios [on a push-to-talk mobile app] and be able to communicate clearly right back to fire alarm where they can’t do that with a portable radio. So, initially, that’s going to fill that gap for us,” Chief Doody recounted.

Making the decision to adopt FirstNet also took into account the recent evolutions in technology and their impact on public safety operations. Chief Doody explained, “Looking towards the future, having the ability to access data on laptop computers and quickly get information you need for planning and response purposes was something that made us think about FirstNet.”

Listen to my full interview with Chief Charlie Doody in Episode 32 of the Public Safety First podcast to hear how his department plans to use FirstNet in the future.