PROGRESS 2023: Trae Caton committed to county’s safety
Published 12:25 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in “Progress 2023: Behind the Scenes.” Copies are available at 1109 Seventh St. N in Clanton.
STORY BY ELISABETH ALTAMIRANO-SMITH
PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED BY TRAE CATON
Serving the community has always been a dream and focal point for Trae Caton. He grew up watching his father Steve Caton serve at Clanton Fire Department and wanted to follow in his footsteps. He began volunteering at Collins Chapel Fire Department at age 16. However, when Caton became an adult, he began working for Alabama Power in delivery transmitter equipment, which frequently sent him out of town on assignment.
“I wanted to get my license to be a volunteer fire fighter, but I never had the time when working out of town,” Caton said. “After six years, I started working in safety compliance for Alabama Power, which gave me the time I needed to take the test and volunteer.”
He began volunteering for Cedar Grove in 2009 and served as assistant chief from 2016 to 2018. In 2018, Caton became a volunteer for Clanton Fire Department and was named fire chief at Collins Chapel in 2020.
“I’ve always had a huge desire to serve others and help out when needed,” Caton said.
His service for Chilton County is not limited to firefighting.
In 2014, Trae began volunteering to help Chilton County Sheriff’s Department with special lighting and computer logistics.
“Before, whenever a service car needed maintenance, they would have to drive to Birmingham or another city and spend hours away, so if it is something I can fix, I try to do it here to save our county time,” Caton said.
Recently, a large part of Caton’s focus has been aimed at changing Chilton County’s emergency communication system at 9-1-1, where he works part-time as radio network manager.
“Trae Caton is a great asset to our county,” said Chilton County 9-1-1 director, Terra Scott. “His only objective is to make things better for our first responders and citizens. He began helping me at Chilton County 9-1-1 with radio issues before he was ever hired to do so, just because he wanted to make things better. His work for Chilton 9-1-1and the P25 project is only a portion of how he gives back to his community, Trae is always willing to help anyone that needs it.”
There is an evolving need to update Chilton’s 9-1-1 call radios to a more
modern system that is dependable during disasters known as the “P25 project.” Caton has also partnered with other local first responders in communicating the importance of P25 technology.
“The current communication technology that Chilton County Sheriff ’s Department is operating on frequently fails,” Caton said. “If they are out on a call, sometimes their radios completely shut down. That can be dangerous in a violent situation. Sometimes the officer has to call-in using their personal cell phones. We had multiple computer crashes last year. I sleep better at night knowing people are safe.”
The P25 communication system was created after Sept. 11, 2001. During the chaos that New York City endured during 9/11 it left most of city unable to communicate, which was especially difficult for emergency response services which needed to communicate with one another. With P25, regardless of what disaster occurs, the radios would have the capability to connect with other P25 radios anywhere within the United States.
Two-thirds of Chilton County emergency departments have now purchased P25 radios and are waiting for additional radio towers to be built or hardware to be put on an existing tower.