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    Default Paying for Dispatch

    Curious how 911 Dispatch is handled in your area.

    Does your department pay an annual fee, a per call fee, or nothing at all for emergency dispatch. Also if your department does pay a fee are you a Volunteer or paid department?

    This question has come up in our small town. Our 911 dispatch center is located in the Sheriff's dept and they are looking to make some money.

    They want to start charging our local Volunteer Fire departments a per call fee. Most of our volunteer departments are so broke that they can barely keep fuel in the trucks, we actually have some departments where the volunteers have used their own credit cards to fuel up a truck and our County wants these departments to pay for dispatch.

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    I dont even know if that would be legal...I'm not a lawyer, but something tells me it would NOT be legal.

    A municipality, whethere it be a big city, or a small rural community, are usually legally mandated to provide emergency services of some sort. Many of course "contract" with Fire Companies, that just happen to be an incorporation seperate from the Municipality. Now the Municipality wants to charge the very contractor (that they are legally obligated to provide) money to tell them when to go to an emergency????

    I know you guys dont have any money, but you better tap the piggy bank on this one and take it to your attorney.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    So what if you don't pay? They won't dispatch you?
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    lol, someone isnt thinking straight.

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    When our county switched to a single PSAP/dispatcher center a Communication board was established. One of the tasks was to determine how to fund the region comm center. The formula of funding is based on community valuation and a recent rehash determined that the formula was nearly the same as compared to using a per call basis. I doubt that any one entity can be forced to provide a service for which it is not duly compensated for. This is to say that the county probably can either ask for a fee to be paid or raise it's tax assessment to all county communities regardless of the service provided, a far less fair option for the others.

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    Berks County PA charges each fire company for dispatch and then charges each phone number for 911 services.

    There are a few of us that moved from Montgomery County and were surprised to hear of the charge.
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    With regionalization being the current buzz word and consolidation of many single town dispatch centers here in Maine, We belong to a countywide regional communications center. We [ the town ] are billed an annual contract price that works out to be about $5.10 per capita for PSAP services and dispatch for our three fire/rescue departments. This is how the state is going , with only a few big cities/ towns maintaining their own PSAP & dispatch center.

    There is a surcharge on the phone bills to help with the cost of running these large regional centers.

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    Not sure what happens if we don't pay, I don't think they understand their job is to help the public and not just to dispatch us.

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    Islandfire03: are your three depts volly or paid?

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    Quote Originally Posted by afd365 View Post
    Not sure what happens if we don't pay, I don't think they understand their job is to help the public and not just to dispatch us.
    "Their Job"? You may need to look into how dispatching came about and look into charters, laws and rulemaking to determine who is actually responsible for what services. The economy is forcing many agencies to look at what services they provide and cut where there's a financial drain, without a legal obligation to provide the service, I'd say they can give notice that you're SOL. Now does having a Sheriffs Dept that has it's own dispatchers provide the service make sense? Sure, but someone has to pay for it. Increased workloads cause increased staffing needs, training and expenses, one can hardly expect that the service must be free.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    "Their Job"? You may need to look into how dispatching came about and look into charters, laws and rulemaking to determine who is actually responsible for what services. The economy is forcing many agencies to look at what services they provide and cut where there's a financial drain, without a legal obligation to provide the service, I'd say they can give notice that you're SOL. Now does having a Sheriffs Dept that has it's own dispatchers provide the service make sense? Sure, but someone has to pay for it. Increased workloads cause increased staffing needs, training and expenses, one can hardly expect that the service must be free.

    Yes it is THEIR JOB. If you accept the responsibilty to dispatch 911 services and sign a contract with the state and accept the money, then yes it is your job. It is just entirely too convenient to hide behind the "it's not my job" routine when times get tough.

    One can hardly expect the service to be free??? Really, your are actually trying to make that argument. So in your mind it is okay for them to charge VOLUNTEER departments for dispatch service. We volunteer our service but we should have to pay for the privilege of doing it.. That doesn't make one bit of sense at all..

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    Quote Originally Posted by afd365 View Post
    Yes it is THEIR JOB. If you accept the responsibilty to dispatch 911 services and sign a contract with the state and accept the money, then yes it is your job. It is just entirely too convenient to hide behind the "it's not my job" routine when times get tough.

    One can hardly expect the service to be free??? Really, your are actually trying to make that argument. So in your mind it is okay for them to charge VOLUNTEER departments for dispatch service. We volunteer our service but we should have to pay for the privilege of doing it.. That doesn't make one bit of sense at all..
    Well - he is right on several parts. The real question is who has the legal obligation - if any (think Tennessee and the pay to spray bit). Now - think of who is providing said service and what if any obligation they have and to which areas.

    Where I am at - its a county dispatch system which serves the county townships. If a cost sharing measure were to come up - its not the depts would foot the bill but the townships required to provide said service.

    If you were a contracted agency to provide fire protection (read non-municpality) - you turn to the contract to determine who is responisble for dispatch and handling of call requests. If its muddy - seek an attorney.

    They very well might be in the right to ask other governmental entities to pony up the cash to support something that the other agencies have a legal obligation to provide (end the free ride so to speak). Without details and I mean very specific details - its difficult to form an opinion on who is right and wrong here.

    All I can hope is the entities work through the cost issues with accountants and let the dispatchers keep dispatching calls as needed in the interum.
    Last edited by The nots so new FNG; 01-28-2011 at 09:48 PM. Reason: clarify poorly worded sentence

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    To the best of my knowledge, departments and municipalities are not charged a fee to be dispatched by our County 911 system. The funding comes from a surcharge on all phone lines in the county.

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    Thanks - The not so new FNG - I was really not trying to get into a debate about the legality of what they are trying to do (I should have left it alone, I know), but really trying to get a feel for what is happening in other areas for a comparison.. Thank you for your input though.

    Thanks Firemedic049

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    Quote Originally Posted by afd365 View Post
    Islandfire03: are your three depts volly or paid?
    Ours are volunteer, but there are also Combo and career departments being dispatched from the same PSAP/dispatch center along with the county sheriffs dept. and a couple of federal agencies local offices.
    All together they dispatch for [I think] 22 departments now in a very large county.

    As Adam said someone needs to pay for the infrastructure and the manpower to run these centers. Shouldn't be your individual depts, instead it should be the town/ townships paying their share based either on per capita or call volume fees.

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    We are dispatched by a county wide center. It falls under the control of the county government. There is a 911 over site committee that is made up of fire, police, and ambulance mangers in the county.

    They dispatch the county wide ambulance, the sheriff's department, all but one of the local PD's and all but one of the FD's (same city that has their own dispatch center).

    The dispatch center is funded from a 911 tax that is attached to your phone bill for land line only, there is talk about adding cell phones as well. Each agency also gets billed for the number of calls that they get toned out to. I can't tell you how much it is because that is well above my pay grade.

    The center is dispatching all volunteer to combo to all paid fire departments. On the fire side there is one paid and one combo the rest are volunteer (I think 5 or 6 all volunteer).

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    We are dispatched by a regional center that serves most of two counties. They dispatch for Volunteer, Comb and Full Time departments. Everyone gets charged the same amount per call, about $35. The law enforcement agencies also get charged per call, but it is significantly less because they handle so many more "calls." Our 911 phone surcharges go to cover part of the cost, but not all of it.

    Before this situation, we were dispatched for free by our county center. With the economy being the way it is the county decided to close it. In the end we are happy. We get much better service than we used to. You get what you pay for I guess.

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    It really would help to know where the OP is from. Everyone who is chiming in on how wrong this, or whose responsibility it is, should step back a moment and think that maybe it is different in his state or locality than it is elsewhere.

    The comment about funds from the state for 911 - in many states there are no such funds.

    The comments about the county or locality has a legal obligation to provide emergency services, not in many states also.

    The comment about the dispatch center doing their job and not billing - is it really their job to not bill?

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    I think part of the problem here is recognizing that in this economy, sheriffs departments and state police agencies that have traditionally provided dispatch services are needing additional revenue to keep the doors open..
    Many of us have been paying for this out of county or state taxes in the past without knowing it.

    Our town has contracted our dispatch services out for over twenty years rather than having to operate our own dispatch. much less cost per capita.
    One of the benefits of consolidation is we are getting Licensed EMD certified dispatchers who have to maintain a level of training and recert annually.

    We [ out town] also have a contract with the County sheriffs department to provide dedicated law enforcement deputies assigned to our town, versus having the patrol deputy make one tour a day through our town. We are located on the far end of the county & isolated from the majority of the county.

    It's a brave new world out there and pay per use is becoming much more common in practice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by afd365 View Post
    Yes it is THEIR JOB. If you accept the responsibilty to dispatch 911 services and sign a contract with the state and accept the money, then yes it is your job. It is just entirely too convenient to hide behind the "it's not my job" routine when times get tough.
    This is some revealing info you'd not let us in on before. I suspect they do have a responsibility if they took state money with a contract.
    Quote Originally Posted by afd365 View Post
    One can hardly expect the service to be free??? Really, your are actually trying to make that argument. So in your mind it is okay for them to charge VOLUNTEER departments for dispatch service. We volunteer our service but we should have to pay for the privilege of doing it.. That doesn't make one bit of sense at all..
    Ah yes! You expect to get free service just because you're volunteers? Did they give you a free fire truck and free fuel for it? Hows the free electricity at the fire house? Well heck I didn't realize we all had to do everything for you volunteers for free. Let me buy you some cheese to go with your whine!

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    In the jurisdiction where I work full time, the primary 911 PSAP & dispatch center is part of the PD. It's funded by local property taxes along with the rest of local government.

    In my town of residence, dispatch is a regional service that charges an annual fee to the municipalities it dispatches for. (Presumably they all raise those funds from property taxes as well.) This sometimes engenders some gripes from the municipalities since they have little or no say in the dispatch center's policies or budget. (The dispatch center is governed by a board composed of members of the departments it dispatches -- many/most of them are independant of municipal government.)
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    No free lunch.
    ?

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    In one adjoining county - the SO, who is also the 911 PSAP, will NOT dispatch fire departments. They have one department that is dispatched by the city it is in, one that uses a "firehouse patch" (a radio phone patch that sends out two tone paging when it recieves a call) one dispatched by a local private company that runs a 24/7 ambulance dispatch, and a couple that use phone bars.

    The SO will not due it, because they have one jailer/dispatcher on shift, who may be dealing with an inmate etc.

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    We also get dispatched out of the sheriffs dept. But because we are a small volunteer dept. we average $300 per and often have problems with our beebers not going off or not receiving voice so we don't know if we have a fire or ems call till we arrive at the station. Don't see any changes in the future, we just have to suck it up.
    Ed

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    were are POC doing 800 runs a year........we pay I want to say 40K /yr to our center ......and they mostly SUCK.
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