Town of Emmitsburg
300A S. Seton Ave Emmitsburg, Maryland

September 2003

In February 2003, I requested a meeting with members of the Emmitsburg Ambulance Company, Emmitsburg Fire Company, Frederick County Deputies, town staff and elected town officials.  This meeting was planned to discuss “what would we do if a disaster happened in Emmitsburg”.  This meeting was arranged due to the heighten levels of security put in place by the Department of Homeland Security.  

At our first meeting, it was acknowledged that the fear of a man made disaster (terrorist) was not as likely as a natural disaster (flood, tornado, vehicle accident…etc). At our first meeting we also decided that Mt. Saint Mary’s College, the Provincial House, and the Fire Academy should be included in our discussions. In April 2003 the Town arranged for the group to go to La Plata Maryland to see an emergency warning system which was installed after a tornado went through their town in 2002. 

Prior to our visit to La Plata, Emmitsburg Fire Chief, Frank Davis located and contacted two companies that install emergency systems similar to the one in La Plata and requested pricing information.  After Mr. Davis received information from both companies, Town officials discussed with this group the functions that would be desired for an emergency warning system in Emmitsburg.  We agreed to make it like La Plata’s system, which has a warning siren followed by a voice announcement.  The only difference to the La Plata system, La Plata, only has one unit for the entire town, which can not be heard all over town. 

The system planned for Emmitsburg will have three units through out our town, with additional units located at the Fire Academy and Mt. Saint Mary's College. With three units in Town, the siren and voice announcements should be heard at every location in Town.  The purpose of having voice announcements is to assure a means of communication with the community.  As the town of La Plata found out, one of the most difficult problems during an emergency is keeping the community informed of the situation. 

All three systems (Town of Emmitsburg, Mt. Saint Mary’s and Fire Academy) will be controlled primary from the Frederick County Central Dispatch (911) Center.  The Town of Emmitsburg will also purchase additional equipment to have the capability to activate the system ourselves.  All equipment installed outside of the Frederick County’s Central Dispatch Center and the site designated as the Town of Emmitsburg’s command center will be solar powered with a minimum of a 72 hour battery back-up supply.  Equipment installed inside the Frederick County’s Central Dispatch Center and the site designated as the Town of Emmitsburg’s command center is backed up with generator power. 

The initial cost of the Town’s portion to install the three units in Town and connect to Frederick County’s Central Dispatch Center will be approximately $100,000.00 At this time, the county and the state have not agreed to reimburse the Town for any of this cost. We will keep trying.  For future cost, a town ordinance has already been enacted to charge developers an additional $200.00 in impact fees for all new homes to cover the cost to upgrade and enlarge the system as needed. 

At the August Town meeting, the commissioners with a 3-1 vote agreed to go ahead with this project with the understanding that the money will be borrowed internally within the town’s general fund budget and or sewer/water budget.  Since the August Town meeting, I have had a financial meeting with the Town Clerk, Town Manager and Town Accountant.  At the time of writing this article, it appears that the fund balances from the Town’s general fund will cover the total cost of this project and there may not be a need to borrow any money for this project.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call the town office, or e-mail me at

Jim Hoover

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