1. #1
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    Default Need Input from the Dispatchers

    I am detailing a set of blueprints for stand-alone Emergency Operations Center. The proposed facility is adjacent to a firehouse, and will also serve as backup dispatch point.

    I am seeking information on the things that works best for your agency vs. what was a waste of funds.

    * Preferences for a traditional TDM phone system vs IP
    * Room and task lighting: fluorescent, LED, or Halogen
    * Conventional consoles (Centracom style) or open style with cable management
    * Large display formats: Plasma, LCD, or LED


    If there are other items that you feel important, chime in

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    Dont forget to include a restroom (preferably adjacent to the dispatch room) within close proximity to the dispatchers.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Lightbulb

    On phone, would go with traditional hardline, as VOIP is still in development stages, and 50 calls would crash the whole 911 system.

    Lights, flourescent. LED requires too many for any good lighting, and Halogen, I think you mean the HID lighting, you are looking at a good 2 minutes for complete light and at least a 4 minute delay for restart if there is a power loss, even if there is a backup generator.

    Comand console- go with open, and large led screens, with area overlay software.

    Not been in dispatch, but have helped design command centers before.

    oh, for the toliets, integrated with your seat at the console. LOL sorry couldnt resist

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    And a kitchen with a sink, microwave, pizza oven, toaster oven, and lots of paper plates.

    -A fridge that is large enough to handle a lunch for two shifts of full staff. This has become a huge problem in some dispatch centers I know of.
    -Make sure it is NOT in a flood plane.
    -Make sure there is a super heavy duty fart fan installed in the bathroom. NO JOKE!!

    * Preferences for a traditional TDM phone system vs IP
    IP, it's the only way to go and you can upgrade with technology.
    * Room and task lighting: fluorescent, LED, or Halogen
    A combination of all. LED and fluorescent at each work station that can be adjustable in brightness to the dispatchers liking. If you have subdued lighting, it will naturally want to stay a "quiet" atmosphere.
    * Conventional consoles (Centracom style) or open style with cable management
    We have Zibeck (spelling) with adjustable screen and console desks that go up if you want to stand up, or down if you want to sit down.
    * Large display formats: Plasma, LCD, or LED
    The screens are all LCD with the radio and phone being a LCD touch screen. Works fantastic!! Make sure the screens are adjustable in brightness, tint, angle, height, and closeness to the operator. This totally affects how the dispatcher operates and how stressful the day becomes when your workstation is not set up how you like it. (seriously!!)

    -Have a back up generator and a back up to that. The generator should be big enough to power the entire operation and then some.

    -Have plenty of UPS's so there is a seamless transition between the power going off and coming back on.

    -Install a super heavy duty ventilation system in it. This will be running constantly with all the computers and people will constantly be adjusting the temperature.

    -Purchase heavy duty chairs designed for 911 dispatch centers. They will be used constantly and will be "hot seated" all the time. They are built to be used 24/7 with "*** don't smell" filters, lumbar supports, and adjustable height and arm rests.

    -Storage for office supplies, paper, spare computer parts and equipment, and if necessary, sleeping areas in an event of a natural disaster.

    -Design it so you can add positions in the future, or leave room for future expansion. The last thing you want to do is build something then have to add on or replace it in 5 years.

    -Design the main dispatch room so that the work has a nice, easy "flow" to it and that baskets for paperwork are within an arms reach. I don't want to be bending over, stretching, or standing up all the time when I gotta put paperwork in someone's box.

    -Put the shared things where everyone can see it such as the TV, white boards, memo boards, wall maps, etc. with plenty of decent lighting as well.

    -Air fresheners and some sort of carpet or audio blocks on the walls to remove any sort of echo in the room at all. Nothing worse than hearing your partner twice from both sides of your head!
    Jason Knecht
    Assistant Chief
    Altoona Fire Dept.
    Altoona, WI

    IACOJ - Director of Cheese and Whine
    http://www.cheddarvision.tv/
    EAT CHEESE OR DIE!!

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    Dickey summed it up pretty well. I would add an extra station or two in case a console goes down or you hire additional dispatch personnel.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    My comments in blue

    [QUOTE=Dickey;1087917]And a kitchen with a sink, microwave, pizza oven, toaster oven, and lots of paper plates.

    -A fridge that is large enough to handle a lunch for two shifts of full staff. This has become a huge problem in some dispatch centers I know of.
    -Make sure it is NOT in a flood plane.
    -Make sure there is a super heavy duty fart fan installed in the bathroom. NO JOKE!!

    * Preferences for a traditional TDM phone system vs IP
    IP, it's the only way to go and you can upgrade with technology.

    Respectfully disagree. IP may be the emerging technology, but it is far from proven, and more buggy than reliable. If the aim for the EOC is to be an EOC, then IP based solutions may be appropriate. But if there is going to be a hybrid of both 7/10 lines and 911 trunks, than it might be a better decision to remain with wired line phone lines.


    * Room and task lighting: fluorescent, LED, or Halogen
    A combination of all. LED and fluorescent at each work station that can be adjustable in brightness to the dispatchers liking. If you have subdued lighting, it will naturally want to stay a "quiet" atmosphere.

    Yes, combination of all. And make sure there is a way for every overhead light (save what may be required by code) can be turned off. And, I mean every one. That is part of the subdued lighting scheme spoken of above.

    * Conventional consoles (Centracom style) or open style with cable management
    We have Zibeck (spelling) with adjustable screen and console desks that go up if you want to stand up, or down if you want to sit down.
    We have Watson desktop setups here, that can go up or down. And, we intentionally set the barriers between colsoles below the seated sightline so the staff can talk across to each other if the need to pass information verbally arises.
    * Large display formats: Plasma, LCD, or LED
    The screens are all LCD with the radio and phone being a LCD touch screen. Works fantastic!! Make sure the screens are adjustable in brightness, tint, angle, height, and closeness to the operator. This totally affects how the dispatcher operates and how stressful the day becomes when your workstation is not set up how you like it. (seriously!!)

    Touch screen is a bad idea, IMO. Its a nice flashy thing that command staff can bring tours through and show, but its practical use is limited. The chance to get food, drink and other things on the monitors is pretty big, especially if food and drink is allowed on the floor. Physical handsets or integrated headset systems would prolly work just as well (Plantronics is a good place to start looking). I've been a dispatcher for 10 years and have used the touch screen stuff maybe 10 times.

    -Have a back up generator and a back up to that. The generator should be big enough to power the entire operation and then some.


    Yes, definitely. For NFPA compliance, having software that can record when the generator went on and went off during tests would be beneficial. Absent this, have someone on duty note in the journal when it comes on and goes off so there is written documentation that it works.


    -Have plenty of UPS's so there is a seamless transition between the power going off and coming back on.

    Yes, definitely.

    -Install a super heavy duty ventilation system in it. This will be running constantly with all the computers and people will constantly be adjusting the temperature.

    Yes, definitely.

    -Purchase heavy duty chairs designed for 911 dispatch centers. They will be used constantly and will be "hot seated" all the time. They are built to be used 24/7 with "*** don't smell" filters, lumbar supports, and adjustable height and arm rests.

    Yes. Can't agree enough with that. And if a superior tries to complain about how much they cost, I'ma tell you that for the time that our 24/7 chairs have lasted, we would've had to replace the normal office chairs at leasts 10 times.

    -Storage for office supplies, paper, spare computer parts and equipment, and if necessary, sleeping areas in an event of a natural disaster.

    Murphy beds might not be a bad idea if there isn't room for a honest-to-God bunk room. If THAT doesn't work, try air mattresses.

    -Design it so you can add positions in the future, or leave room for future expansion. The last thing you want to do is build something then have to add on or replace it in 5 years.

    Yes, build for more room. Its far more cost effective to leave room than to open a new facility already 'comfy'.

    -Design the main dispatch room so that the work has a nice, easy "flow" to it and that baskets for paperwork are within an arms reach. I don't want to be bending over, stretching, or standing up all the time when I gotta put paperwork in someone's box.

    I'll differ here. Keep paperwork out of the way. It clutters up the floor. Its one thing if we're talking about a rarely used EOC or supervisor's office, but the main alarm office should be devoid of papers, save notepads for the dispatchers to write on and any paperwork needed for use (SOG, run cards, mapbooks).

    -Put the shared things where everyone can see it such as the TV, white boards, memo boards, wall maps, etc. with plenty of decent lighting as well.

    -Air fresheners and some sort of carpet or audio blocks on the walls to remove any sort of echo in the room at all. Nothing worse than hearing your partner twice from both sides of your head!

    Yes, there should be sound deafening provisions. But, you should have low barriers between stations to the staff can talk to each other. Ever hear "...I dunno, lemme check with the calltaker..."?

    [\QUOTE]
    Last edited by DualReverse; 08-20-2009 at 10:56 AM.
    Remember KQJ943

  7. #7
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    DualReverse...

    Good to see a fellow dispatcher!

    Your comment of touch screens.....yes, they do take some maintenance on just keeping the screen clean. We have to clean them more often because of fingerprints and greasy fingers over time. No big deal, just some special wipes about every two weeks or so. Our phone and computerized radio system are touch screens and everyone here loves them.



    I forgot a comment as well to add to the list.

    Have some PAD too...(Paper Aided Dispatch) It would be a form like what is your CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) system with information you normally would type out during a typical call. You gotta have a back up system if the computerized system fails. It has happened a couple of times here now in the last 5 years. Murphys Law is in effect. Human error occurs when they don't hook things up right or the back up generator doesn't work or something like that.
    Jason Knecht
    Assistant Chief
    Altoona Fire Dept.
    Altoona, WI

    IACOJ - Director of Cheese and Whine
    http://www.cheddarvision.tv/
    EAT CHEESE OR DIE!!

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    Default Thanks!

    Many really good idea's and feedback from the folks who deal with it on a day to day basis.

    Here's a question: The design work for structurals, HVAC, electrical, communications, etc are being done by volunteers who have signed releases. The paid work is for plan review by the PE.

    We tossed around the idea of placing the design (with unsealed prints) out for use under the terms of the GPL (or other open source licensing as appropriate) The only thing negative I can see is a potential security problem if too much detail is provided (alarm systems, lock details, etc)

    Anyone else take this approach to help out another agency / department?
    Last edited by spareparts; 08-22-2009 at 11:13 AM. Reason: Typo Correction

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dickey;1087917They are built to be used 24/7
    with "*** don't smell" filters, lumbar supports, and adjustable height and arm rests.

    -Air fresheners and some sort of carpet or audio blocks on the walls to remove any sort of echo in the room at all.
    You should probably look at what you guys are eating!

    All kidding aside, I've never given much thought to the dispatch area, it was police run, but it really is interesting.

    Thanks!

    .
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

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    There have been a lot of good ideas given above. We have ergonomic consoles in our Dispatch. I don't know what brand they are. Here is something very important to consider if you have consoles that raise and lower to meet the Dispatchers needs. When the computers, monitors, etc are being installed at each station, be sure that the console is raised to it's full height before the cabling is installed. When we had ours installed several years ago, the tech left the console in the seated position and as a result, the cabling was too short to raise them up to a standing position. Lots of money on fancy ergonomic consoles wasted.
    Be sure to plan your floorplan needs for at least ten years from now. We thought we had built a big enough Dispatch five years ago and we are already getting crowded. Plan also for lots of storage space. It keeps your radio equipment room from becoming cluttered with boxes of old printouts, etc.
    Definitely push for 24/7 Dispatch chairs. I use the only true Dispatch chair here and it is ten years old. It is getting a little ratty looking, but the rest of standard office chairs have all been replaced or reupholstered several times.
    Use flourescent lighting in the ceiling fixtures. Have them wired so half of the lights can be turned off if the Dispatchers don't want it really bright in the room. Have individual lighting available at each station also.
    One EOC I visited had 20-30 computer, electric and phone connections installed in the floor underneath the work tables so people could plug in their computers and there wouldn't be extension cords running everywhere when there was a big incident and lots of people in the EOC.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefKN View Post
    You should probably look at what you guys are eating!

    .
    We do....


    We watch it go right into our mouths...Don't get close to the intake!!!

    C'mon....here in Wisconsin we don't eat anything unless we can bread it or fry it in grease!!

    Jason Knecht
    Assistant Chief
    Altoona Fire Dept.
    Altoona, WI

    IACOJ - Director of Cheese and Whine
    http://www.cheddarvision.tv/
    EAT CHEESE OR DIE!!

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    Speaking from experience, make sure everything important(electrical) is elevated off the floor. Our dispatch center is located in the county jail and they have been adding on and renovating the jail. Well the contractors had left a piece of the new roof to where it meets the old roof unfinished overnight. It just so happened we got a "turd floater" that night and it flooded the dispatch room(18"of water) and ruined some equipment. Luckily we can operate on our own from the station if necessary and we did for a couple of days, until they got the emergency equipment up and running.
    Puttin the wet stuff on the red stuff!

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    3 things.

    consider a portable phone and extension speaker and mic for the crapper.

    also UPS for all the "critical" software based stuff.

    For true reliability, how about a bank of the old twisted pair office phones(self powered) already wired up and ready, sitting in the closet for when the genny goes toes up.

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    Default Update:

    We may be going with an Avaya Definity that is surplus to another local department. System currently has both analog and ISDN PRI trunks, analog and digital stations, and will do VOIP. System is still under a support contract with Avaya, they will let us relocate it, and upgrade it to the CM5 platform when the time comes.

    If we go this route, we will order 6 ground start trunks from Verizon that pass through a set of cutover relays to selected analog stations. If the PBX fails, those analog stations will still have dial tone from the central office. BTW, Desk phones are all display phones, either with 10 line/option buttons or 34 line/ option buttons.

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