Storm takes toll on city computers

Tiffin City Council unanimously passed an ordinance approving the contract for the purchase and installation of a new police and fire dispatch center and new equipment Monday night.

Tiffin Police Chief Fred Stevens and Tiffin Fire Rescue Division Chief William Ennis spoke about the upgrades needed at both departments. Stevens said the equipment in the communications room is more than 30 years old and was affected by the severe weather last week. Consoles were replaced recently, but the radio equipment is original.

No cost estimate was offered.

Another piece of technology that requires updating is the communication room’s digital audio log software. It automatically records every call for the department’s records and has been malfunctioning all year, Stevens said.

He said city hall and the police department experienced several power surges in Wednesday’s storm, causing damage to one of the consoles.

The affected console lost the ability to call out the fire department, EMS, the city’s tornado sirens and the fire recall unit. Operations can continue on the single unit, but if that console goes down, dispatchers would have to operate exclusively on radio, causing a delay of at least three minutes in response time.

“In March of this year, I emailed the mayor that we were one major storm or power surge away from the situation that we find ourselves in today,” Stevens said.

He has looked into a 12-year, no-interest loan for technology improvement, but that loan would not be available until later this year.

He told council improvements must be made immediately.

Ennis said both departments have looked for grants but none are available at this time.

He said due to police department problems, the rescue division was unable to call for mutual aid.

Mayor Aaron Montz called it a special circumstance and said without updates, city could be put at risk.

“The last thing that I think any of us want to see is a tornado to come through here and we have a five-minute delay,” said Montz. “Our hopes were to either include it in next year’s budget or go through the (North Central Ohio Regional Council of Governments)… but unfortunately it did not work out this way.”

The ordinance passed allows council to bypass the formal bidding process and proceed immediately to the project. Councilman Mark Hayes said he wanted the Board of Control to be involved to make sure that all parties agreed on the proposal and the vendor.

Finance Director Gwynn Reinhart said the computer server in her department went down Thursday evening. She looked into replacing the server and a broken harddrive and discovered funds available through the North Central Ohio Regional Council of Governments.

An ordinance to purchase a new server was passed unanimously.

Several individuals affected by flooding on Northwood Drive also spoke about damage from recent weather. Mike Borer and Kay Drake explained more of the problems homeowners experienced in that area due to the Tiffin Mall’s retention pond.

Law Director Brent Howard stated that a letter has been sent to several individuals in mall management and will report back to council when he receives a response. Howard also suggested that those who have experienced property damage should contact their insurance companies and present their claims against the mall.

Montz thanked the Public Works Department for its storm cleanup work.

The city will continue curb pickup of limbs and trees until Friday. The sewer treatment plant also will take limbs and trees 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m.