1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    May 2000
    SW MO

    Default Dispatching question--How do you do it?

    I recently got elected to our county's 911 board, so I'm now in a position to better resolve issues our county fire departments are having with our 911/dispatching system.

    As a little bit of background, we're a rural county that has 14 FD's and 3 EMS agencies, along with about 8 or so LE agencies, besides the county sheriff's department. 911 just got voted in a couple of years ago, and the dispatch center finally opened right at a year ago. So, while 911 isn't new to me, it's new to our county and many of our emergency responders.

    When the 911 was first in the works, the fire chiefs ignored the recommendations of the 911 Director and opted that dispatching and communications for each department be done on their own frequency. We have since found out this isn't working. Most departments in the county don't have a repeater, so the lone tower for 911 isn't enough to cover the entire county.

    Instead of buying each department a repeater just to communicate with them, 911 recently decided to go to a system where dispatch/comms is handled off of two repeaters that will divide the county in half. Each FD will be assigned to one of the two, and their pagers will have seperate tones for each department.

    This is a system similar to what is used where I work as a career firefighter and some other counties in our area. I'm curious how many of you use a system like this, or even one where comms are on the individual frequencies, and what kind of issues you have or how well it works.

    While the change has my full support, I thought it might help to have some better understanding from those who already do it, as well as the ability to tell the chiefs that this is something that's used all over with success.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Charlotte,Iowa,United States of America


    We currently do everything that you had mentioned for the 2 towers and all of our fire dept's run on the same frequency, but have seperate tones for all 13 departments we have. I also am the operator that goes to all of the county fire chiefs meetings and go over any problems. They are very set in their ways and do not like change-but change is inevitable. Any questions send them my way!

  3. #3
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    IL, USA


    Where I'm originally from in northern WI, the general rule was that all departments in a county were dispatched on one of two repeater channels, although there were a few exceptions. This method is great for interoperability/mutual aid because now you're all aware of which departments are being paged, who's gone enroute, etc. It can become problematic when multiple calls are active at the same time. In that situation it becomes imperative to switch fireground operations to a separate channel to free up the main dispatch channel.

    Where I am now in IL everything is simplex and there are something like 13 different frequencies used for dispatch in a single county. This makes interoperability a major headache because everyone is monitoring their own channel and doesn't always know what's going on with their mutual aid partners. It's also very inefficient from a spectrum standpoint to have a dedicated frequency for every tiny department. Once you have a dedicated countywide dispatch channel you can free up those other rarely-used frequencies for other uses. In a perfect world, you may even consider putting two repeaters at each site on different frequencies as a primary channel and an alternate that can be used when the primary channel becomes overloaded (all paging would be on the primary channel). Doing this may require cooperation to have some departments "give up" their frequencies for the "greater good".

    Either system can work. I think training and making sure end-users understand the system, how it operates, and what its limitations are become key. As you deploy your new system put the work in up front to develop good SOGs. Make sure everyone understands it up front and things should go smoothly. Countywide dispatch frequencies are very common in most parts of the country. Individual dispatch channels for each department are probably the exception, not the rule in most areas of the country (except for maybe the east coast).


  4. #4

    Join Date
    Aug 2007


    Catch 22, PM me if you can. I have someone in SW MO you can contact that has a set up like what you want.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Dec 2008


    Catch 22, PM me. I know someone in SW MO you can talk to who has a set up like what you are looking for.

  6. #6
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Burlington, CT


    The center I dispatch for only covers 2 seperate towns with 4 fd's that do both Fire and EMS, so for that we only have a frequency for the fire in one town and a seperate one for fire in the other with multiple fire ground frequencies.

    Your system sounds like the system that is used in Litchfield County CT which dispatches over 30+ Fire and EMS agencies. They use a single Dispatch channel (non-repeaterized) with multiple towers to get the calls out. From the point of dispatch to arrival this is the frequency used is the same as dispatch. For on scene communications with the center after this point a different Command frequency is used. Each region/town is assigned one of 6-8 scene channels that just work off of a portable-portable type system, with a traffic channel and an airtac for our regional medical helicopter. The major down fall with the system is the lack of a repeater. Take a look at their website for more info... www.lcd911.com

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