Thread: Civilian Fire Dispatchers
12-28-1998, 10:46 AM #1Gerald DebienFirehouse.com Guest
Civilian Fire Dispatchers
Recently the Toledo,Ohio FD civilianized our fire dispatch from uniformed fire dispatchers. If there is anyone out there that has done the same thing or is presently using civilian fire dispatchers I would like some input or feedback on how the transition has went or how it is going. What are the work hrs., how many dispatchers on duty at a time, how many incidents do they handle per year, and what is the size of the dept. and population they serve. Thanks
12-28-1998, 06:41 PM #2Phil HawkinsFirehouse.com Guest
Our dept. is not very large about 220 personnel. We have around 5,000 runs a year including first responders. Our disp. are mixed from civilian and the dept. The ones from the dept. generally know the needs on the street better than the civilians. The civilians with lots of time do well but the new ones just say "10-4" no matter what is going down. I think training is the important factor. Our folks work four 10 hour shifts, with two on duty most of the time. We have an older CAD system and enhanced 911. Police and fire are cross trained, but seldom cross over from one to the other.
Phillip V. Hawkins 111
Charleston Fire Dept.
[This message has been edited by Phil Hawkins (edited 12-28-98).]
12-30-1998, 09:16 AM #3JDuffillFirehouse.com Guest
I have been a civilian fire/police/911 dispatcher for 9 years. A total od 9 full time dispatchers work in the police station 8 hour shifts 4 days on 2 days off. There are always 2 dispatchers on duty unless there is a major emergency or event and we hire accordingly.
The town's population is around 24,000 but swells during the day. We have a large shopping mall, two strip malls, and three industrial parks. Also 3 major highways run thru town. We handle aproimately 17,000 police calls and 5,000 fire calls including inspections and public services.
[This message has been edited by JDuffill (edited 12-30-98).]
01-02-1999, 11:03 AM #4Tulsa911Firehouse.com Guest
Since 1991 Tulsa, OK has used a consolidated dispatch center. We dispatch several police and fire depts.Currently I am the evewatch fire supervisor. We have a minimum staffing of 3 people for fire side, sometimes we have 4 people. Last year Tulsa Fire ran on just over 29,000 incidents. The other 2 Vol depts we dispatch for ran on about 300 runs total. We work 5, 8 hour shifts per week with a yearly shift change. Things have been rough over the years but I think training is finally getting to where it needs to be. Staff shortages always seem to cause us problems though. Tulsa Fire operates out of 30 stations with around 700 firefighters.
VOL FF Rolling Hills FD, EMT-I
[This message has been edited by Tulsa911 (edited 01-02-99).]
01-04-1999, 10:35 AM #5FrankRaffaFirehouse.com Guest
The NYC Fire Department has had civilians in the central offices since 1969. We transmit approximately 330 to 360 thousand alarms a year from over 800 thousand phone calls. Citywide, there are 30 full time dispatchers and 5 supervisors on duty at any given time. We are split up into 5 offices, one in each borough.
Our tours are 12 hours long from 0700 x 1900 and 1900 x 0700; 4 days on, 4 days off with a fifth day off on the third swing. This makes a 25 day cycle. Of the 4 days on duty, the first 2 are day tours and the second 2 are night tours. When we work over 40 hours in a week, the extra hours are paid at the FLSA rate. Also, because we work days and nights, everyone gets night differential.
We dispatch 510 pieces of apparatus not including EMS. (EMS calls are handled at a separate facility and are not included in the above stats.)
More information about us appears in a magazine article a coworker and I wrote. <A HREF="http://members.aol.com/fd347/article.htm">You can read it here.</A>
01-05-1999, 11:34 AM #6Phil CFirehouse.com Guest
I currently work for the City of Summit Fire Department, for the past 20 or so years summit has had civilian dispatchers. We work the same shift as the firefighters, 2 10 hr days, 2 14 hr nights, with four days off. summit has a contract with the township of millburn to provide dispath services for their fire dept. both depts are combination depts having fulltime paid ff's and on-call volly's. total call for 1998 were about 4,000 total for both depts combined. staffing is one dipatcher on duty per shift, with a callout of off duty people if the need arises. Training will be very important, ride alongs will help with this because someone with no firefighting background won't understand what's happening in the street if they've never seen or done it.
01-12-1999, 08:51 AM #7ChiefHankFirehouse.com Guest
In 1996/1997, the City of Newark, New Jersey abolished the title of Fire Alarm Operator and civilianized the Fire Alarm Division. No forethought whatsoever was given to the problems that would arise from 3 different groups of people working under 2 different labor contracts and 2 different schedules.
As the chief of the division at the time, I fought long and hard against it, which eventually took me to the point of collapse. After I became ill and was out of the way, they immediately went ahead with their plans.
To this very day, the civilianization of the division has been a total and dismal failure. There are major labor and personnel problems that there are no remedies for, without tearing everything down and starting over.
Upon discovering that the administration was looking for a "Lt. Calley," I immediately retired from the department, and I thank God every day that I was able to.
I am not saying that civilianization is a bad thing, however, much thought and planning has to go into such a move before even thinking about such a plan, especially where you are changing over from a uniformed service to a non-uniformed one.
Stay safe, all,
03-08-1999, 11:20 PM #8lt74Firehouse.com Guest
I AM A 911/FIRE/EMS SUPERVISOR IN A SMALL RURAL COUNTY IN MARYLAND. I HAVE BEEN A CIVILIAN DISPATCHER FOR THE PAST 14 YEARS, WE HAVE A POPULATION OF ABOUT 80,000 IN THE COUNTY AND DISPATCH APPROXIMATELY 3000 FIRES AND 9000 EMS CALLS PER YEAR. WE WORK 12 HR SHIFTS 2 DAYS ON 1 OFF 2 NIGHTS ON 3 OFF. ALTHOUGH I HAVE BEEN I THE VOL. FIRE SERVICE SO I KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING ON THE OUTSIDE I UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE SAYING ABOUT THE CHANGE. HOWEVER I FEEL IF THE PERSON DISPATCHING CARES ABOUT THE PUBLIC AND THE PEOPLE ON THE STREET HE/SHE CAN DO A GOOD JOB BE THEY CIVILIAN OR UNIFORM. WE ALSO HANDLE APPROXIMATELY 40000 911 CALLS A YEAR FOR ALL TYPES OF SERVICE. WE HAVE 3 ON DUTY AT A TIME SOMETIMES 4. UP UNTIL 1997 WE WERE WORKING 2 PER SHIFT AND HAD NOT HAD A NEW HIRE FOR THE PREVIOUS 7 YEARS. WE DISPATCH BOTH CAREER AND VOLUNTEER DEPTS. WE HAVE 14 FIRE DEPTS AND 10 EMS COMPANIES IN THE COUNTY (SOME COMBINED) DUE TO OUR LOCATION WE DISPATCH IN 5 DIFFERENT COUNTIES. DUE TO THE WAY OUR SCHUEDULES ARE SET UP WE HAVE NOT HAD OVER 2 WEEKS OF SICK LEAVE FOR THE ENTIRE DEPT IN ANY YEAR SINCE I HAVE BEEN THERE. I HOPE THIS WILL HELP. I MIGHT ADD ALL OUR DISPATCHERS ARE AT LEAST EMT LEVEL CERT. AND EMD.
[This message has been edited by lt74 (edited March 08, 1999).]
03-16-1999, 05:25 PM #9TankerFirehouse.com Guest
I think everyone is saying the same thing, and that is TRAINING, it makes the difference, on wether the dispatcher knows when to ask the right questions, vehicle fire , dispatch the FD. But did the dispatcher ask where the vehicle was, outside or in the garage. I have been paid law enforcement, and volunteer FF for over 20 yrs, presently dispatching do to leg problem. I did not know or see a problem untill I was in dispatch. Training and as one said, let the dispatcher ride along. But I have also seen another problem, wether you are civilian or union dispatcher, and that is the officer wanting to know why it is taking so long to get that vehicle information, the officer not understanding dispatch operations, thinking you are not doing anything, but you are really working other emergency traffic with another agency. Officers should set in dispatch for a shift. Our officers have to relieve us and they say "get me out of here, I can't take this" The officers do not understand that they may take 5, 10, or more calls when the dispatcher has handled 30,40, or more and has had to do some type of report and the officer takes care of the incident with no report,(most of the time) and goes back to driving around, running traffic enforcement, or if it is a nice day, taking it easy, been there. Do not get me wrong my brother officers work there butts off, but do not have the constant stress as dispatchers do. To make it short, (ha ha) both side need training on each others jobs.
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