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CEL-FI Improves Communication and Response Time for City of Denton First Responders



  • Located in Texas, the City of Denton is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, with more than 135,000 people calling it home.
  • The Denton Fire/Rescue Department has been providing residents with first-responder services since its founding in 1874 as an all-volunteer force.
  • Today, the department is comprised of nearly 200 firefighters and paramedics who work in one of the seven fire stations across the city.
  • New energy-efficient building blocked cellular signal inside.

The Challenge

Fire Station 2 recently underwent a complete rebuild. The new, $6 million facility features energy-efficient windows, insulation, and metal roofing which help reduce energy costs and the building’s environmental footprint. The downside of this energy efficient approach was that the building material prevented cellular signals from getting inside the station’s four, 75 by 75 feet apparatus bays when the doors were closed. The bays are where fire trucks, ambulance, boats, a command unit, and other support vehicles are stored.
With its location in a low cellular coverage area, Fire Station 2 firefighters historically had poor cell service. But after the rebuild was completed, they could not make or receive phone calls from their cell phones. They were also not able to receive texts consistently from shift commanders, who work from Fire Station 1 headquarters and are responsible for communicating with crews about incidents around the city and moving personnel from one station to another to ensure adequate emergency services coverage around Denton.
“The primary form of communication for shift commanders is page-to-text, and they had no way of confirming that their messages had been received,” explains Chief Kenneth Hedges of the Denton Fire/Rescue Department. “It’s critical that this infrastructure works, so that we can deliver emergency services to residents without delay.”
In addition, the Denton Fire/Rescue Department’s vehicles are equipped with mobile deck computers (MDC). Crews responding to a call log in to the MDC upon entering the vehicles while still in the bay. The computer then tracks the crew’s response time—a key analytic for the department. However, the MDCs run on cellular, which meant that response times could be off by up to 45 seconds—the amount of time it could take to get cellular signal after leaving the bay.
To combat this, crews would call dispatch, and the operators would manually log their times.
“Despite having modern technology literally at our fingertips, we had to rely on manual processes which increased the risk for human error,” says Chief Hedges. “Inaccurate response times skew our data, and could prevent us from identifying opportunities for improvement.”

The Solution

Crews connect to emergency vehicle computers immediately with CEL-FI QUATRA
The City of Denton’s IT department contacted Troy Waldrop, President of Cellular Signal Solutions. Waldrop, who has been doing structured cabling work for the City of Denton for more than a decade, had recently undergone training on the CEL-FI to meet the increasing demand from customers and prospects for indoor cellular coverage solutions. He didn’t hesitate to suggest CEL-FI to Denton’s IT team.
“CEL-FI offers 1,000 times the signal strength of a bi-directional amplifier, which provides more than 100 feet of additional coverage per antenna,” says Waldrop. “Combined with a very reasonable price point and a quick, straightforward installation time, CEL-FI was the ideal solution to provide coverage for the fire station.”
Waldrop installed a CEL-FI system with antennas for two major carriers at Fire Station 2. The entire installation took one day, with three installers on the job.

The Results

The difference, according to Waldrop, was immediate. “Now, as soon as the firefighters and paramedics get into a vehicle, they’re able to connect immediately via cellular signal thanks to CEL-FI.”
Making the most of every second for better patient outcomes. For Chief Hedges, enabling communications via cellular ultimately results in better outcomes for Denton residents. “Our crews can begin performing advanced life-saving procedures on someone having a heart-attack whose brain cells begin dying after just a few minutes – more quickly,” he says. “In the event of a fire, the earlier that firefighters arrive, the better the chances are of minimizing structural damage and decreasing safety risks for personnel.”
Plans are underway for Cellular Signal Solutions to install Cel-Fi systems at other Denton fire stations experiencing poor indoor cellular coverage. “Most people are not aware of the public safety implications of poor indoor cellular coverage,” says Waldrop. “With the availability of CEL-FI, hopefully they never will be. It is a true game changer – and life saver.”

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