DULUTH - Firefighters in Duluth may be picking up an unusual duty: Helping people who are having problems switching to digital TV.

That idea irks some city council members, who say it would be a waste of time. One councilor, Todd Fedora, says he doubts residents would have supported a 9 percent property tax increase if they'd known firefighters would be installing digital TV converters.

The national changeover is supposed to happen next month. Fire Chief John Strongitharm says the costs of firefighter involvement would come from a $10,000 grant from a national organization aimed at helping seniors. The chief points out a test project in North Carolina last year used the fire department, and it only went to about a dozen homes.

City administrator Lisa Potswald said TV is an important way for the city to communicate with the public in an emergency.

But Potswald said the city would re-evaluate if the fire department gets too many calls for help.