TAMPA (FOX 13) –

Remember when anybody who was somebody had a pager? Times have changed, but not at most fire departments across the Tampa Bay area. Pagers are standard equipment for hundreds of firefighters at Tampa Fire Rescue and in Hillsborough County firehouses as well.

“I’m sure most people have experienced when they can’t get a signal on their cell phone. Pagers really don’t have that problem because they are on a different frequency,” explained Jason Penny, spokesperson for Tampa Fire Rescue. “Pagers don’t use the cell towers, they use satellite communications so that makes sure we get the information out to the people we need.”

Tampa Fire Rescue spent $8,166 last year to operate and maintain 133 pagers. Hillsborough County spent more than twice that amount for 334 pagers.

“We spent almost $20,000 a year,” said Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokesperson Ronnie Rivera. “As long as I remember — and I’ve been here 15 years — we’ve been using the pagers and yes, it does work.”

Both agencies say the cost to taxpayers is worth it. Pagers may be “old school,” but they are dependable, and fire departments across the Bay Area and all over the country count on redundancies when it comes to communication. That’s so if one system fails, they have a backup — because often times, somebody’s life is on the line.

Team American Messaging