Forty Fort is implementing a new emergency notification system for residents that will warn them about fires, flooding, neighborhood crimes, missing children or where to park for street sweeping.
The high-speed system known as CodeRED will send notifications quickly via telephone calls, text messages, emails and social media to let people know about emergencies or even street closures and parking restrictions for street work and trash pickup changes due to a holiday.
The borough is the first in Luzerne County to adopt the system, which is provided by an Ormond Beach, Fla., company called Emergency Communications Network.
Borough officials are encouraging residents and those who work in the borough to register on the borough’s website, www.fortyfort.org, where they will click on the CodeRED logo. Even though the borough has a database of residential and business phone numbers, residents and businesses can add additional contact information, such as cell phone numbers, text and email addresses by registering.
Police Chief Daniel Hunsinger said training classes for borough officials are planned for Tuesday, and the system will be up the same day.
Hunsinger came up with the idea for the warning system after hearing about it at a police chiefs conference.
“I thought it was really good, especially with the borough being in a flood zone,” Hunsinger said.
Mayor Andy Tuzinski, who also is the borough’s emergency management director, said the messages can target specific streets or areas if a problem only affects those residents.
“One of the nice features is we can pinpoint down to a specific street or neighborhood, which could notify residents ofa specific street,” he said.
The borough will try out the system with street sweeping April 11 and 12.
“We’re going to notify people how alternate street parking will be working with street sweeping,” Tuzinski said.
The mayor said officials would like to get everyone registered.
“We have everybody’s number,” he said, noting the system will send a recorded message to home phones.
But registering gives people additional options to receive alerts via their cell phones, texts or other social media.
“I’m thrilled,” Tuzinski said. “This to me is a lifesaving product.”
He said the messages are immediate and can be changed when updates are needed.
“I can’t give enough credit to Chief Hunsinger. He’s been trying to do this for over a year.”
It took this long because of the cost and the lack of financial support. But the chief approached businesses, which donated, along with a reverend and a church, to meet most of the $5,000-per-year expense, a little more than a dollar per person in the borough of 4,450 people.
Hunsinger said the donations came up $61 short, which the borough could cover if more donations don’t come in.
“For less than the cost of a cup of coffee, people are being protected from any kind of disaster or natural disaster,” Tuzinski said.
Because the donations collected cover the entire cost for the year, there is no cost to residents, for this year anyway, the mayor said.