1. #1
    Michael Armstrong
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default combining fire and police dispatching

    Recently, a consultant gave our department its findings regarding staffing of our dispatch office. The consultant recommended that we combine fire and police dispatching on 1 channel, and also that we share channels for field operations. Supposedly this would save on dispatcher positions, I was wondering if any city (approximately 300,000 population and over) operated in this manner. Our fire department has about 45,000 runs a year and the police have about 400,000 calls a year.

  2. #2
    Firehouse.com Guest


    One of our local departments uses this method now, and hates it! They only run 1700 calls per year, but it still causes problems for both FD and PD. They are in the process of switching to two different channels right now. Do whatever you can to keep this from happening. This has proven unsafe in the past.

  3. #3
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I could not imagine the FD and PD on the same channel, it would be ridiculous on the type of call filtering you as a human would have to do. Our department is dispatched by the Sheriff's Office, but we have our own channels. The sheriff's deparment has their own, and the police have their own. I bet it gets pretty confusing especially when everyone is trying to figure out who is where and what the heck is going on. That system sounds really unsafe and very inefficient. Good luck and stay safe.

  4. #4
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I can't imagine that this system would ever work. Who gets the priority, which service is more important when simultaneous calls hit? We have many fire depts in my are that are dispatched by the police. Not a combined center, but just one more thing for the PD to do. These depts have nothing but trouble. I can't believe that this set up would ever work.

    Remember, when the Chief says "gimme a second" he might just be collecting his thoughts!

    Dave LeBlanc

  5. #5
    Firehouse.com Guest


    What some cities do to save a buck! Lots of luck! The same channel? No way! Our dispatch is under the control of PD and when there is a persuit or a perimeter guess where every dispatcher's attention is? Plus, they all need to know PD, Fire, and EMS. Very tough job to do. The some dispatchers lean toward the PD and are bad FD dispatchers and some lean toward FD and are bad PD dispatchers.

  6. #6
    Bob Snyder
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs down

    I'm not a dispatcher, I'm a fire officer (a customer, you might say), but I think I can say with some degree of confidence that your consultant has been smoking something (and it doesn't come from R. J. Reynolds)!

    I'm from a county with a population a little bigger than your city. The Comm Center has 3 fire boards, 1 EMS board, and 1 police board. There are about 25 frequencies overall (counting tactical, fireground, talkaround, etc.), of which the dispatchers need to be concerned with only the five corresponding to the boards listed above.

    The center's overall call volume is significantly lower than yours. We sometimes have difficulties with overcrowding, etc. even with our setup. The cops have by far the most radio traffic, and most fire and ems personnel and stations don't monitor their frequencies because the chatter is incessant. I just can't believe that you could get proper coverage with a combined frequency, even under our conditions.

    How about downsizing the consultant and keeping the frequencies??

  7. #7
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Where I am from we have a county dispatch system that serves all 26 municipalities in the county. This includes all Police, Fire, Rescue, as well as Emergency Management, County Parks, County Road Dept, and Paramedics.

    We have 5 Police Channels, 6 Fire channels (dispatch only monitors 2 of the fire channels), 4 Rescue/EMS channels, Paramedic Med channels, 1 Road Dept and 1 Parks Dept channel.

    Having seperate channels is good and bad. The big problem is that our fire channels are on low band (33mhz) and all other channels are on high band (155 mhz). This creates the problem that when those units do want to talk to each other, they cant unless they have multiple radios in their vehicles

    Overall I would say that having at least 1 seperate channel for each emergency service is the way to go.

    As for saving money, someone should sit down and advise whoever controls the money that you are emergency services and saving money is not always the answer.

  8. #8
    John Donahue
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I agree with the person who thinks your consultant is on something. How the PD and FD could work on the same channel is beyond me. And, to the person who asked "who would get the priority, well who has the most calls? I work for a city that has the police and fire in the same dispatch center and we have trouble getting the dispatcher who is assigned to the fire desk. A lot of the time they are "helping" out the police desk so don't answer us until we call 5 or 6 times!
    Also, watch out for who is going to train them, if the PD is in charge of training they will be Police dispatchers no matter what desk they are assigned to. Make sure they are trained by fire personnel or you'll be hearing police codes instead of yours. If they don't understand the fire department from the start they won't ever.


  9. #9
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I really couldn't imagine having both police and fire on the same channel. While you are dispatching a fire run, an officer could be trying to mark an officer emergency. What would you do if you had a working fire and a pursuit at the same time?? What a mess. It's a disaster waiting to happen. We dispatch both police and fire, however, each has its own set of channels and its own dispatcher. It's a lot less stressful that way.

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