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First Responders Call for System Upgrades in Salem, NH

First responders in Salem, New Hampshire say they’re in desperate need of an upgraded communication system.

Both fire and police departments say the radio system has failed at least once during recent emergency calls.

In February, Salem police officers' radios failed during a drug raid that was aimed at combatting the opioid trade.

“We were running an operation down by the state line," said Salem Police Captain Joel Dolan. "Being [stationed] both inside and outside the building, our officers couldn't communicate with each other. It led to an officer safety issue.”

Salem Police say that with their current radios, their job becomes more dangerous.

“It’s very scary,” Dolan said. “It is not a want by us. It's definitely become a need.”

Salem Police are joined by the Salem Fire Department and the Department of Public Works, who are also calling for upgrades to their communication systems.

“If we’re inside of a building and we're using this radio, it's only six watts, as compared to the mobile radios in the fire trucks that are 100 watts,” said Salem Fire Chief Paul Parisi. "The hand held radios don’t reach far.

“We have a lot of dead areas up at North Salem and a lot of dead areas down in South Salem,” Dolan said.

“It’s scary for the first responders and for the people they're trying to help,” said Patrick Vetere, a Salem Resident. “During 9/11, one of the problems police had was that their radios didn't work under extreme conditions, so it certainly sounds like a good thing to support.”

The first responders are asking for $1.6 million over the next three years to pay for the upgraded system.

“There’s no cost to the taxpayer, because it's coming out of our savings account and there's no interest,” Parisi said.

"I believe the fire department and the police department should have all the equipment they need,” said Joseph Arcadipane, another Salem resident.

“Help us keep our firefighters and police officers and municipal service workers safe,” Parisi said.

Residents will be able to vote on funding the new system on Election Day, which is March 13.

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