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NORTH EAST — Lieutenant Mike Kelley of the Crescent Hose Co. navigates the department’s red fire truck along a picturesque stretch of Route 5 as North East Fire Chief Dave Meehl watches the red light on the truck’s mobile communications radio start to glow.

A voice chimes in over the radio. It’s unintelligible.

“All we’re doing is picking up garble,” Kelley says as the truck coasts east toward the New York state line. “We can’t even transmit…

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