When an automatic fire alarm goes off on Shore Road, the Shelter Island Fire Department is dispatched by an emergency operator in Southold to the nearest cross streets: Stearns Point and Prospect.
But the fire may be all the way over on the opposite side of the Island, on Shore Road in Dering Harbor, as was the case for an automatic alarm in late January. And it’s happened before.
It’s a problem Arthur Bloom, the Village of Dering Harbor’s fire marshal, is trying to get the Town of Shelter Island to fix. The simplest solution, Mr. Bloom told the Town Board earlier this month, would be changing the names or the numbers on the Shore Road that’s on the west side of the Island, between West Neck Road and Rocky Point. But Police Chief Jim Read says the problem could be addressed by the Southold emergency operator. Or that Dering Harbor should make the name change for its road, not the town.
For several years, all 911 and automatic alarm calls have been directed to the Southold Police Department, which serves as the Public Safety Answering Point or PSAP for Shelter Island police, fire department and ambulance.
As Mr. Bloom explained it, the dispatcher receives the address from the alarm company and punches it into a computer. The computer spits out the cross streets, and “100 percent of the time, we get the cross streets of Stearns Point and Prospect,” Mr. Bloom said of local responders, even when the alarm originated in Dering Harbor.
“We have met with dispatch, and there seems to be a difference of opinion about how to fix this,” Mr. Bloom told the Town Board. “I’ve decided to offer you the chance to do an easy and permanent fix.” Either rename Shore Road on the west side of the Island to “West Shore Road,” he said, or add 100 to each house number on that road.
There are about 20 developed properties on each of the Shore Roads in question, but several on the west side have been merged into commercial property, he said, reducing the impact of a change there.
Mr. Bloom said that he had contacted every private alarm company serving Dering Harbor to inform them that emergency calls to the Southold PSAP must refer to the Village of Dering Harbor address. But the problem persists, he said.
Mr. Bloom told the Town Board that a dispatch tape he had listened to clearly indicated an alarm for a Dering Harbor address, but the computer-generated cross roads reported by the Southold dispatcher directed local responders to the west side of the Island.
Chief Read said at the board meeting that he wanted to look into the issue before the board took any action. The problem, he commented, could be addressed at the Southold end. And if it came to changing a road name, why shouldn’t the smaller municipality be the one to do it, Chief Read asked.
Village Mayor Tim Hogue told the Reporter this week, “We’ve lived with this situation for quite a while — let’s see what Chief Read comes up with,” and in the meantime he suggested taking a look at the history of how the road names came to be.
“The fire department feels that one way or another this has to be fixed,” Mr. Bloom said, and that a change on the Crescent Beach road would be less onerous. A letter to that effect was sent from the fire commissioners to the Town Board.