Rod Bowar, General Manager and Owner of Kennebec Telephone Company is not only a recognized entrepreneur, but he is also known for his deep sense of community involvement. As the local fire chief, Rod has seen many times over the years neighboring fire departments working as partners to put down every type of fire you can imagine. This spirit of community has allowed Kennebec Telephone to bring together many area fire departments using the APMax Firebar service.
Firebar allows emergency responders to be connected together as a team the instant a call is received through the local emergency phone number that is connected to the Firebar. According to Technical Manager Trusty Mertens, Kennebec Telephone has been offering Firebar licenses to rural fire departments around west central South Dakota for years, but there has recently been an increased need which has now made them the third largest provider of APMax Firebars in the United States.
Many of these rural fire departments have been relying on pagers and radios for years, but as the equipment becomes more difficult to maintain, a solution like Firebar is an attractive alternative because it is essentially a service that is hosted by Kennebec Telephone. The majority of the firefighters in rural South Dakota, and rural America for that matter, are volunteers because there are limited funds to sustain these organizations. Mertens says the bottom line is to provide these emergency service volunteers a reliable way to be notified of a fire or emergency in their communities.
“For Kennebec Telephone, offering a service like this is not about a “move the needle” type of revenue, but it goes to the rural roots of neighbors looking out for neighbors.”Trusty Mertens, Kennebec Telephone
In an effort to fit into the rural fire department budgets, Mertens says that the company charges a one time annual fee for unlimited use of the service.