Signal Mountain's police department is taking the lead when it comes to technology in Tennessee.

Chief Mike Williams announced Thursday that the department is now using AT&T's FirstNet system to communicate throughout the department, which is a game changer when seconds matter most.

"They stay up and running even if our power should be down here at the station, they can still communicate and use their technology," Signal Mountain Police Chief Mike Williams said.

Incidents like 9/11, the Gatlinburg wildfires and severe weather made it challenging for officers to talk to each other and with neighboring agencies over radios and cell phones.

The FirstNet system, which is backed by the federal government, eliminates those obstacles. Think of it as a network just for first responders.

"It's cost prohibitive and sometimes technologically prohibitive for agencies to link their communications to a neighboring agency," Ehrin Ehlert with First Responder Network Authority said.

It also helps officers on every day calls especially in dead zones.

"I know that in some parts of this mountain that the accuracy or even some of the information or some of the signals are poor," Signal Mountain Police Officer Troy Kennedy said.

A federal grant is helping Signal Mountain pay for some of the cost and is about the same of what departments pay for systems they already use.

Signal Mountain Police Department is the first department in Tennessee to start using the FirstNet system.

When more departments and agencies start using the system, Signal Mountain will be able to connect with them.

This is the latest of several updates in technology Signal Mountain police have made this year, allowing officers to answer calls quicker and more efficiently.

To learn more about FirstNet, click here.