Fire Department installs shortwave antenna

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : June 2, 2017

: Club members work to assemble the shortwave antenna.

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
GUN BARREL CITY–Gun Barrel City Fire Department and the Cedar Creek Amateur (ham) Radio Club have teamed up to create backup communications in cases when storms take out electrical power, damages cellular phone networks, and even renders Internet and land lines useless.
A couple of years ago, the ham club installed a basic radio with a range of 15 miles as part of the Emergency Operations Center the fire department maintains to coordinate communication in the area. That range meets most local needs.
However, the April 29 tornadoes (not to mention hurricanes Ike and Katrina) have demonstrated the need to communicate beyond the local area. How do you reach Austin or Fort Worth or other regional centers that can bring aid in a hurry? The answer: shortwave radio.
Working with Fire Chief Joseph Lindaman, the club has installed just such a station that can reach out to metropolitan centers outside of the local area. “It is just another layer of protection for area residents,” radio operator Ed Busch said.
Shortwave requires much larger antennas that are rotatable. Though light weight, the antenna is awkward, due to its size. There was much discussion about how to lift the antenna from the fire station parking lot where it was constructed to its rooftop tower, May 25.
Then the Chief came up with the idea of using a ladder truck to lift, and then extend upwards across the roof. It worked beautifully.
There are many improvements yet to be made to the radio station in the EOC, which includes the sophisticated equipment belonging to the club, but in the meantime the club can use it for training and as a club station for its members. And in the case of emergency conditions, trained radio operators can call out for assistance.
The Gun Barrel City Fire Department is very active in the community and in its efforts to protect the city’s residents. “This was a unique project for the city to partner with a civic group,” Lindaman told The Monitor. “It went really well.”