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No phone service for a month has rural Cape Breton residents worried

Joe Murphy lives in Framboise and is upset he’s had no landline phone service for a month and it’s the same for other residents in Framboise. The phone service is with Bell Aliant.
Joe Murphy lives in Framboise and is upset he’s had no landline phone service for a month and it’s the same for other residents in Framboise. The phone service is with Bell Aliant.

SYDNEY, N.S. — Residents in Fourchu and Framboise are unhappy with the constant problems that come with their Bell Aliant landline phone service and are worried that it is affecting first responders’ ability to receive emergency calls.

In Framboise, residents say they have had no phone service for one month. The month before that the phone lines would cut out after a few minutes or be full of static so the call couldn’t be continued.

For residents in Fourchu, the phone lines seem to be working well this week, but there have been issues for about three years with calls being dropped, static on the line, or the lines being dead for a few hours but then later in the day working again.

“I’m a little nervous. I’m a diabetic …  I have a bowel disease. What if a fire starts? I can’t call anybody. I can’t call the ambulance, nothing,” said Joe Murphy, who has lived in Framboise for 27-years.

“I cut my own wood. What if I hurt myself, what am I going to do? That’s the part that drives me crazy; if I am out on the road and I hurt myself, there’s no houses around me,” Murphy, who lives alone with his dog, explained.

There is no cell service in the Framboise area.

In an email statement, Isabelle Boulet, spokesperson for Bell Aliant said: “We’ve looked into this and have found no current widespread service disruptions, and have sent a technician to the area to confirm. As always, we encourage individual customers experiencing any service issues to contact us at 1-888-214-7896 so we can help.”

She also confirmed a technician made repairs on the system last week, which residents in Fourchu think helped their landline phone service.

By press time Framboise residents hadn’t noticed any improvement.

Darryl Gwynn, from Fourchu, is deputy chief of the Fourchu Volunteer Fire Department. While the phone problems are a nuisance, Gwynn admitted he has a bigger fear.

“Our biggest concern is the phones in Framboise. When the phones in Framboise are out, we have no pagers for the first department or the medical first responders. If anything ever happened, that’s it, they can’t get a hold of us,” he explained.

Since the Fourchu and Framboise volunteer fire departments work together, they share resources and the radio system for deploying local firefighters is based in Framboise. When the phones are down there, local firefighters can’t be paged or called.

“There’s got to be something done. They have to get rid of that tower system, that’s all there is to it … It’s a terrible system. A terrible, terrible system,” Gwynn said.

“Ninety percent of the people in Framboise and Fourchu are senior citizens … If we get a call tonight and none of the phones are working in Framboise nobody can get a hold of us. (They) can’t get a hold of 911 to dispatch us.”

According to both Gwynn and Murphy, over the past couple of months Bell Aliant technicians sent to look at the problem have told them they’re waiting on a part to fix the tower system and because the system is old, getting parts for repair is difficult.

Boulet confirmed Bell Aliant isn’t waiting on any parts for the system.

Murphy reached out to the MLA for the area, Alana Paon, on Aug. 30, but her office has not responded yet.

This isn’t stopping Murphy from trying to get the issue solved. He is inviting members of both communities to a meeting tonight at the Fourchu Hall, starting at 6 p.m..

“Somebody’s has to care about it and do something about it … that’s what I’m hoping for,” he said.

“I think we’re being classified as second-class citizens or something … I don’t think it’s right.”

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