Fox 43 tower replacement could impact county first responders

John Joyce
  • A Fox 43 communications tower in York must come down, taking with it part of York County's emergency system.
  • County officials said space is leased on the tower for emergency radio and paging systems equipment.
  • Neither a cost nor a time frame has been established for replacing the tower, officials said.

Officials are hoping York County emergency communications will not be interrupted as the local Fox television affiliate works to replace a radio tower also used to dispatch first responders.

Fox 43 is located on South Queen Street in Spring Garden Township. John A. Pavoncello photo

The tower at the station on South Queen Street in Spring Garden Township failed a structural analysis test, and WPMT Fox 43 must build a new one, Department of Emergency Services Executive Director Eric Bistline told the York County commissioners at their meeting Wednesday.

The tower in question is a key site in the county’s emergency management system, Bistline said, meaning the county will be forced to transition its equipment once Fox 43 builds the new tower.

He told the commissioners the transition will be a challenge, and planning for the switch is still a work in progress.

Bistline said the site has served as a central part of the county's system for as long as he can remember.

Carl Lindquist, the county's director of communications, said the county leases the space atop Fox 43's tower for equipment used to dispatch first responders to emergencies.

"That (tower) holds equipment that transmits signals for our radio network, our paging network, for first responders," he said.

The county hopes to have no interruption in service during the replacement of the tower, which is still in the early planning stages, Lindquist said.

The long-standing Fox 43 tower, left, on South Queen Street in Spring Garden Township is being replaced after it failed a structural test. John A. Pavoncello photo

"The challenge is a technical one as we go through the transition from one tower to another tower," he said, adding it's too early to tell what, if any, cost the county will incur as it works to assist the station in any way it can with the replacement.

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Lindquist said the emergency communications system consists of many towers, so there is some level of redundancy, meaning if one system fails other systems are in place to act as backups. He added that over the next year the county will be implementing a new system with added redundancy.

"We are working collaboratively with Fox 43 as they work to figure this out," Lindquist said.

Bistline added that Fox 43 has served as a good partner.

Fox 43 general manager Chris Topf failed to return several messages seeking comment.

— Staff writer David Weissman contributed to this report. 

— Reach John Joyce at jjoyce2@yorkdispatch.comor on Twitter at @JohnJoyceYD