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Published: Tuesday, 7/14/2009

Lightning strike zaps emergency systems in Perrysburg Township

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Just a few weeks after Perrysburg Township moved into its new, $5.5 million fire station on Lime City Road, an apparent lightning strike over the weekend wreaked havoc with its emergency communications system, telephones, and automatic locks.

About 9:30 a.m. Saturday, the township's communication system, which allows dispatchers to speak with police officers and firefighters, was wiped out. Telephones were out, and the air-conditioning units in the communication office were blown, Township Administrator John Hrosko said.

"It blew breakers. It blew the master panels for the door locks in the fire station. It blew the whole dispatching panel," he said. "It was pretty severe. It knocked out everything here."

He estimated damage could run in excess of $300,000, though a good chunk of that represents the cost of a new communication system, which the township already was in the market for.

"The communication system was completely fried as I understand it," Mr. Hrosko said. "We've been on the phone this morning with insurance companies, with the builders of the building, with the power people, with the phone people."

Police Chief Ed Stribny and Fire Chief Mike Dimick met with township trustees Monday to assure them that emergency calls were being taken and dispatched and to let them know the township's need for a new communication system had just gotten more pressing.

"Our system was becoming an age problem as it was," Chief Stribny said. "For the past six months to a year we have been looking at a newer, updated system. This is just going to cause us to look at pushing that along."

Mr. Hrosko said trustees authorized the chiefs to "go forward and look at two or three different systems and find out what's best for Perrysburg Township." Chief Stribny said some estimates put the price of a new system around $130,000.

After the system blew, Chief Dimick said, dispatchers from the Wood County Sheriff's Office were able to take the township's calls until temporary radio equipment could be put in place.

"The township is safe," Mr. Hrosko added.

"If somebody wants to pull some shenanigans, we can certainly dispatch our police and fire."

An unrelated problem in the city of Perrysburg over the weekend caused some problems with 911 calls on Sunday as well.

Lt. David Weaver said the problem stemmed from malfunctions with switching and telecommunication equipment outside the police station. Perrysburg residents were asked to call an alternate phone number in case of emergency, although by noon yesterday, 911 service was completely restored, he said.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-724-6129.



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