Published DateMEREDITH — Ninety-percent of the municipalities in the state and 10 of the 11 in Belknap County are mapped by the New Hampshire Division of Emergency Services and Communications (DESC) according to the Enhanced 9-1-1 Addressing System. But, not Meredith.
Following a presentation to the Board of Selectmen by Kenny-Lynn Dempsey of DESC at a workshop this week, the town appears on its way to joining the pack. The selectmen directed Town Manager Phil Warren to place the issue on the agenda of their next regularly scheduled meeting
Currently, emergency services are dispatched to Meredith with so-called "centerline data," which directs first responders to a street, but not to a specific address. Using GIS data, the enhanced mapping system provides detailed emergency response maps that not only show every structure with an address but also assigns each a GPS point marking its precise location. In particular, the maps identify and locate fire hydrants.
Dempsey stressed that the sole purpose of the improved mapping is to minimize the time required for firefighters and emergency medical technicians to respond to emergencies by directing them to the right place in the least time. Chief Jim Hayes of the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid Association said that the mapping is especially useful for personnel called to other towns with which they may not be familiar.
"It's a must in my eyes," said Fire Chief Ken Jones, who told the selectmen that he pressed for mapping twice before only to find the initiative stifled at the staff level. "I played a lot of baseball in my time," he remarked. "I've got two strikes and this is my third. I don't intend to strike out."
In the past town officials have been reluctant to adopt the system for fear having to tackle issues such as similar sounding street names and addresses out of numerical sequence. In particular, the numbering of island properties is unorthodox. Dempsey said that DESC would make recommendations to overcome inconsistencies, but assured the selectmen they would not be required to change street names or address numbers.