1. #1
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    Question P.D. Dispatcher delays F.D. Dispatch

    In my town the Police Dept dispatches all public safety, recently they have begun the practice of sending patrol cars on occasion without dispatching F.D., to verify what is needed, this has ranged from smoke detector activations to reported transformer explosions & fire, fire alarm activations and most recently a reported auto fire on the interstate which turned out to be in a different jusisdiction but there were people burned in the car and if it had turned out being in my town there would have been a couple min's of delay in F.D. being dispatched. I was wondering if anyone reading this has experienced something similar or know of any past situations where this type of delay has caused a fatality or injury, and are there any laws regarding this subject?

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    There are no laws in NJ on this.

    This is a problem that CANNOT be fixed at the time of dispatch. To fix this problem, your fire chief has to get down to the Police Chief's Office today...right now...and discuss this problem as professionals. Perghaps there are (perceived) legitimate issues on the part of the PD that has caused them to make the change. Perhaps there are unresolved "issues" between the two departments. Perhaps there is a clearly misinformed superior officer who has issued a new dierctove. Whatever the problem, your Chief should fix it now rather than later. No letters, no "show of force" no crying to Mayor. Two men sitting down face-to-face across the desk from each other acting like professionals.

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    Unhappy I've been here before...

    I've been down this same road in two seperate towns. Although I've seen several close calls because of police dispatchers sending patrol cars before dispatching the fire department... The best (or, rather, worst) example happened in my hometown in 1999. (I previously told the story in this thread, which you may want to check out.)

    The county-wide dispatch back home is run by the police department. One night, they received several calls about heavy smoke in a residential neighborhood. They sent a police officer to investigate. He dismissed the smoke as being from an area sawmill. Moments later, dispatch paged out the FD when someone called to report the real cause of the smoke -- a working house fire (see below).



    I like George's advice. Hopefully, your chief is a problem solver and he can sit down with the police chief and work things out.

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    This reminds me of a cartoon i saw at my department one day. It's like a comic strip and the cop pulls up (parks in front of the hydrant) walks inside the house and down to the basement, leaving all doors open along the way, where he sees the couch is lightly smoldering from a cigarette left unattended. The next strip shows 5 minutes later with the cop outside and FD arriving on scene with a fully involved house fire, while the cop scratches his head with a question mark over it and says "it was barely going when I got here..." lol

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    This is definitely a situation that should be discussed between your FD and PD chiefs. I don't see any advantage to sending a PD officer first...you're still dispatching city resources, so why not start fire? If PD gets on-scene and the FD's not needed, they can always cancel the responding units.

    All 911 calls go to the PD dispatcher first here. If its a fire or EMS call, the dispatcher will then "transfer" the caller to the regional fire dispatch center. I believe the PD dispatcher has the ability to continue listening while this is done, and will often simultaneously dispatch PD units to the scene.

    The other night when I had the ambulance, I was listening to the scanner and heard PD dispatched to a slip/fall on a pool deck. I stood up and started for the door about 10 seconds before my pager went off with the same call from our dispatch.
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    There is obviously a disconnect between the fire and police. If it is a miscommunication it can be resolved fairly quickly. While I agree that the best method is for the Chief to speak with his counterpart - if it fails then it must be taken up to the next level. In fact, hopefully while all of this is being written, the situation is now resolved.

    The photograph above is a sobering reminder of what delayed responses mean. I would not want that on my back - I doubt the police chief does either. At any rate- best of luck.
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    Few years ago, a town near me went through this exact problem. Went on for about 2 years and actually was not a problem for those 2 years. Then there was the night the patrol car was sent for a fire alarm sounding. PO pulled up and and saw nothing showing so FD was not dispatched. Something (luckily) made him walk around to the back of the building. When he got there, he found smoke and flame blowing out the back windows. The way the wind was blowing, nothing showed from the front. Turned out to be a 3 or 4 minute delay in FD notification, and probably did not make much difference due to the amount of fire anyway, but it finally led to the FD complaining enough to Mayor and Council that they finally listened and directed the PD to go back to dispatching FD along with PD on fire related calls.

    FD Chief's had already sat down with PD Chief to discuss this. The policy was not changed until the Mayor directed it to be. To this day, not many people, other than the PD Chief know why it was changed, but a lot of people had asked and gotten no answer. FD never was told why the change was made. By the way, he is not PD Chief anymore.

    And I agree with everyone above, have the Chiefs sit down together and resolve it. No guarantee it will work, but it's definitely the first step.
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    Despite all of the other problems in our area, our county did the 911 system right.

    They established a separate entity entirely for handling the county dispatch. No police chiefs, fire chiefs, or EMS directors involved(unless they work there for their job or something).

    Calls come in to one of three or four call takers, they type up the call sheet, check the little boxes on the computer for the agencies needed to respond, click the send box. the run sheet then pops up at each selected agencies dispatching console simultaneously. No sending the police to find out if its a worker before the FD or anything like that.
    "Captain 1 to control, retone this as a structure and notify the fire chief...."

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    Originally posted by SpartanGuy
    Despite all of the other problems in our area, our county did the 911 system right.

    They established a separate entity entirely for handling the county dispatch. No police chiefs, fire chiefs, or EMS directors involved(unless they work there for their job or something).

    Calls come in to one of three or four call takers, they type up the call sheet, check the little boxes on the computer for the agencies needed to respond, click the send box. the run sheet then pops up at each selected agencies dispatching console simultaneously. No sending the police to find out if its a worker before the FD or anything like that.
    In a perfect world, that is the way to go.

    However, this instance is in NJ. NJ is the "Home Rule Capital" of the world. It is very common to have municipal energency services to be dispatched out of a single seat PD employee manned dispatch center.

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    Default PD units before FD units

    Odd that you post this. This happened today in our city. Police dispatch (who dispatches all public safety agencies) sent a police officer to a report of smoke coming from a house. Upon arrival it was a confirmed working structure fire. The Fire Chief has already been to the Police Chief considering he was at the fire also...was not a pretty site. Also this was not the first time this has happened. I guess our dispatchers don't know the protocols. Bet they will learn now!

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    Thumbs up Not in Maryland.......................

    I don't know if we're the first state to do so, but in Maryland each County must have a separate dispatch center, must use E-911 systems, and all agencies in the County must use the system. Only problems in recent years have been the State Police, who have been slow to pass on calls to the 911 centers, that they received thru their local phones. That seems to have been fixed though. BTW, in 90% of the State, Cops only go to a FD event when invited, unless a prior protocol is established. Truth is, they don't have time anyway, they have their own stuff to do. We do enjoy a good working relationship with the PD at all times. Problems are rare, and usually involve a personality conflict.
    Last edited by hwoods; 07-27-2005 at 12:02 AM.
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    Lucky for us, pertaining to this situation our police department's favorite PD advice is as follows:


    "E34 - police advise they have no cars available."


    This almost always seems to be a problem in small towns only. As George said, it normally ends up being some kind of power struggle between the fire and police chief.

    Good luck.
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    Originally posted by SpartanGuy
    Despite all of the other problems in our area, our county did the 911 system right.

    They established a separate entity entirely for handling the county dispatch. No police chiefs, fire chiefs, or EMS directors involved(unless they work there for their job or something).

    Calls come in to one of three or four call takers, they type up the call sheet, check the little boxes on the computer for the agencies needed to respond, click the send box. the run sheet then pops up at each selected agencies dispatching console simultaneously. No sending the police to find out if its a worker before the FD or anything like that.
    Sort of like ours. All 911 calls to a county center. If they determine its a PD call, they send it to the appropriate agency. If its a fire call, the dispatch it and handle the tac channels. If its an EMS call, they dispatch the FD first responder, then send the call to the county ambulance dispatch center that handles EMD and dispatching of ambulances. All agencies (FD, PD & ambulance) are on the same 800 system and can communicate with each other if needed.
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    Default Re: Not in Maryland.......................

    Originally posted by hwoods
    I don't know if we're the first state to do so, but in Maryland each County must have a separate dispatch center, must use E-911 systems, and all agencies in the County must use the system. Only problems in recent years have been the State Police, who have been slow to pass on calls to the 911 centers, that they received thru their local phones. That seems to have been fixed though. BTW, in 90% of the State, Cops only go to a FD event when invited, unless a prior protocol is established. Truth is, they don't have time anyway, they have their own stuff to do. We do enjoy a good working relationship with the PD at all times. Problems are rare, and usually involve a personality conflict.
    Just another example of how MD is years ahead of th rest of the US in providing emergency services.

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    Is this not amazing. And I thought our department was the only one this happened to(notice the sarcasm in that). We had the same problem. When our chief started addressing this pd told him. “You guys are volunteer no reason to call you out of bed for nothing at midnight.” Ok so it was not midnight when the call that changed their minds come in. Call was give to pd to check lot of smoke in the area Annsley Rd. Near the church. Not only did our Asst. Chief hear this and get dressed so did the trustee of the church. The trustee beat everyone there as the pd did not run hot to the call. The trustee opened all the doors to clear out the smoke for us. Pd arrived at same time as our Asst. Chief. Which was about 12 minutes in to the call. From the time pd gave the call till we where toned out was 14 minutes. When the state fire marshal arrived on scene wanted to know why it took us 18 minutes to get on scene. We gave him are actual times and the times pd had.
    That was the incident that changed it all. Or at least so far. Now we even get toned out to check cars over heating. Police chief came out to talk to fire chief and got an ear full from the fire marshal and ATF agents as well. The poor guy come out to set up a meeting to change policies
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    Another Picture from a neighbor when we started to arrive
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    Originally posted by fireguy919
    “You guys are volunteer no reason to call you out of bed for nothing at midnight.”
    Well, at least he was looking out for our well being...

    Sometimes I've found that certain individuals from the PD don't like the "big deal" we make of somewhat minor incidents. For example, a minor MVA with some fluids spilled and very minor if any injuries. PD just wants "someone to get a refusal and put some speedi-dri down." The FD executes their normal response to an MVA which ends up with two engines, a heavy rescue, light duty rescue (EMS), three fire officers, a utility truck for traffic control, the ambulance, and a medic fly car.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Sometimes I've found that certain individuals from the PD don't like the "big deal" we make of somewhat minor incidents.
    Really?
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    Originally posted by nmfire
    For example, a minor MVA with some fluids spilled and very minor if any injuries. PD just wants "someone to get a refusal and put some speedi-dri down." The FD executes their normal response to an MVA which ends up with two engines, a heavy rescue, light duty rescue (EMS), three fire officers, a utility truck for traffic control, the ambulance, and a medic fly car.
    If you've got good information (from police on scene) that there are no injuries, why do you dispatch apparatus as though there were? I totally believe in expecting for the worst and hoping for the best. However, sending a full box alarm for spilled fluids is silly and it endangers the motoring public and your firefighters in the process.

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    Originally posted by cozmosis


    If you've got good information (from police on scene) that there are no injuries, why do you dispatch apparatus as though there were? I totally believe in expecting for the worst and hoping for the best. However, sending a full box alarm for spilled fluids is silly and it endangers the motoring public and your firefighters in the process.
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    On the other hand... I have been called back to accident scenes after receiving excellent reports from the PD nd a cancellation when someone all of a sudden has "neck/back pain"... usually as a result of finding out they are being cited in the accident!

    Fire Alarm and Police Control are in the same building (it is at the Police Station) and work side by side. We also cross monitor the PD's frequencies, so if we hear the PD report that there are serious injuries we are already set up to deal with it prior to it being announced.
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 07-27-2005 at 07:42 PM.
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    Gonzo,
    That's like how EMS always has to go to the courthouse for 'chest pains, possible heart attack' for those people who have just been sentenced.....
    "Captain 1 to control, retone this as a structure and notify the fire chief...."

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    We have that problem, but it is not nearly as bad as before. When we changed dispatch centers we made a Dispatcher Handbook, it included every policy and procedure the FD does, even if it was only one sentence. When they make a mistake I talk to the appropriate PD official and then fax over my written report, and the copy of the SOG they messed up on ........it is so easy, but a PAIN.
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    I heard the full call of Fireguy's church fire & there were major delays in getting the info to the fire side. if i heard correctly the PD also dispatches the FD and saved a couple minutes (once they were called).....just imagine if she actually had to call someone else to send the FD.

    that is the one good thing about my area, of the 19 FD's in the county 10 are dispatched from PD/FD centers and are treated fairly equally in their importance. the other 9 come from one FD only center and obviously we put FD dispatch as our priority.
    the motto of every midnight shift dispatcher - "I'm up - You're up"

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    I heard the full call of Fireguy's church fire & there were major delays in getting the info to the fire side. if i heard correctly the PD also dispatches the FD and saved a couple minutes (once they were called).....just imagine if she actually had to call someone else to send the FD.

    that is the one good thing about this area, of the 19 FD's in the county 10 are dispatched from PD/FD centers and are treated fairly equally in their importance. the other 9 come from one FD only center and obviously we put FD dispatch as our priority.
    the motto of every midnight shift dispatcher - "I'm up - You're up"

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