The town of Bethany voted Tuesday to upgrade its volunteer fire department’s radio system, a day after radio problems caused communication issues during a large fire call.
It was an all hands on deck effort after a fire broke out Monday afternoon at the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven in Woodbridge.
The Bethany Fire Department joined firefighters from neighboring towns to battle big fires together.
“I’ve been there before, my kids learned to swim there,” said Bethany Volunteer Fire Department Chief Robert McSherry.
Chief McSherry was one of many who joined in the response to Monday’s four alarm fire.
“It was dark and smoky,” he said, “it was downstairs in a long hallway in the locker room. It was a difficult interior attack and the crews did a great job knocking it down and keeping it where they found it.”
Bethany firefighters encountered radio troubles fighting the JCC fire and McSherry said those troubles are signs the department needs to upgrade its communications system.
“Yesterday’s been a very good example and every other incident we’ve responded to in the last 4-5 years is also been an example,” he added.
Bethany residents voted Tuesday on a referendum to allocate $1.625 million to purchase new radio equipment, towers and antennas.
“It will take our current coverage from 55 percent to 95 percent guaranteed,” McSherry said before the vote, adding the upgrade will allow Bethany firefighters to talk directly with other departments on their frequencies.
JCC of Greater New Haven CEO Judy Diamondstein witnessed firsthand the importance of first responders.
“I don’t think folks realize until you’re in a moment of crisis how important and integral it is to have fire departments, police departments and all these folks that put their life on the line every day for all of us,” Diamondstein said.
The Bethany Volunteer Fire Department posted on Facebook Tuesday night thanking the town for their support after the measure passed Tuesday night.
One of the two hospitalized Woodbridge firefighters has been released and the other is expected to make a full recovery.
The JCC hopes to reopen as much of the building as it can as soon as possible, Diamondstein said.