Thread: Dispatch woes

  1. #1
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Sep 2007

    Lightbulb Dispatch woes

    Well, I had wrote a nice long post -- and it messed up while posting. Here we go again..

    I need comments, suggestions, opinions, concerning our current county dispatch setup -- read on for the story and tell me what you would do.

    Our fire department has 2 stations, we are a combination department with 3 people at our north station (12) and two people at our south station (13)

    There are about 7 departments in our county, all combination besides the city, full union paid.

    Our dispatch center is in the city police building, it houses the county/city police dispatch (radio), EMS dispatch (control) (hosptial based EMS service -- each truck has their own indvidual tone that drops), and fire dispatch (Central Dispatch) (each DEPT. has their own tone, for example our TWO stations SHARE the same tone).


    Our laser printer shoots out a rip & run sheet, address, call back, nature of call, etc

    Dispatch states "Attention Center Twp. Fire -- your response is requested 555 W. Acme street on a report of smoke showing in a residence"

    An engine from station 12 with 3 people on station and an engine from station 13 with two people mark EN ROUTE WITH "CENTRAL DISPATCH"

    Once that happens, we switch frequencies to a fireground channel -- at this time our stations are OUT OF SERVICE until someone gets to the station, telephones dispatch and says "Station 12 is in service, we are available for another run". If this does not happen, we will NOT be toned to a second alarm if it were to occur -- a neighboring department would take the run.

    All radio traffic from this point forward goes through the station itself -- NOT "Central Dispatch". We mark on scene, request additional resources, etc with the person sitting in the radio room at our station. Dispatch does not do anything else until..

    We mark clear of the scene and available. Then, the person on station marks on the raido "Station 12 is clear, Engine 12, 13, 83 are clear of the scene, returning to station"

    Then we continue on and mark on station with our local fire department.

    I am new to this area, and this is NOT how we did it back home. At home where I recieved my training, each station had their own TONE -- dispatch handled ALL radio traffic ,and recorded all traffic.
    WHAT I SEE IS A PROBLEM: This is where I need everyone's opinion, thoughts, etc.

    I am wanting to write a letter or create a presentation to the local county government, fire chief's association, dispatch administrator expressing my thoughts on this system. I feel like it could fall apart too easily. It always seems like "CENTRAL DISPATCH" aka county fire dispatch has no idea what trucks are where -- they don't tone us by trucks, it seems they have no idea whats going on at any given point in time.

    I would like to see the following changes made:

    1) Each department gets their own tone -- that way, when they drop our fire dept. tones at 4AM in the morning and the call is for the NORTH station for a old lady who fell, the south station personnel do not have to wake up needlessly...

    2) Central Dispatch actually handles all radio traffic -- this is safer for fire personnel on scene, relieves staffing issues, all resources are available in one central location

    3) We would be dispatched by TRUCK -- not Department,

    for example:

    Attention Center Township fire, Engine 12, Engine 13, Ladder 12, Car 1, respond to 555 W. Adams Street, on a man down.


    Please let me know what you think about all of this!

  2. #2
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    the state of confusion

    Default Mohammed, get your mountain

    You sir have grand goals. If you are able to accomplish these things you should be nominated for some type of award. This will require a MASSIVE undertaking on your part. My opinion is leave well enough alone. You moved into the system, it didn't come to you. I appreciate ALL that you say but changing how a Comm. Ctr. works in this day and age is a lot more intense than getting some office space and moving a few phone lines. If you truly feel this is what is best for the area I suggest you meet with the folks that run the local center and see if they are willing to go along. If not, forget it. Frustration and futility will become your best friends. Sorry for the bummer report but that's life in the communications world.

    I do have concerns with your current system. Who is monitoring your units while responding? Who handles requests for upgrade \ assistance before your "watchdesk" gets staffed? This DOES need to be looked at. Nobody should be "flying by the seat of their pants" any more.

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Nov 1999


    Quote Originally Posted by FireMedic12 View Post
    I am new to this area, and this is NOT how we did it back home. At home where I recieved my training, each station had their own TONE -- dispatch handled ALL radio traffic ,and recorded all traffic.
    Your goals are admirable. I would however caution you to never repeat the the highlighted area above. Nothing will kill an idea faster than a new member saying "back home we used to..."
    "The most mediocre man or woman can suddenly seem dynamic, forceful, and decisive if he or she is mean enough." from "Crazy Bosses"
    Genius has its limits, but stupidity is boundless.

  4. #4
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Central, NJ


    Well it also depends on Central's ability to add more operators to handle the increased radio traffic. Dispatchers get slammed enough in some departments cuz when an emergency happens, there is sometimes a shortage of help. Due to this an important message might be missed. Probably not a mayday since we always listen out for that but possibly a request for XXX or YYZ.

    And Central has an 'idea' of where you are. Hopefully you would go where you are dispatched.....

    And to give each truck their own tone. Well that requires adding new tones to the encoder, programming at least half of your pagers/radios to pick up that tone, and it also give central more to worry about.

    For waking up at 4am, well. Come on, you know you love the rush you get when tones drop. Hoping its some action and only slight disappointment when its a minor call.

  5. #5
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Bossier Parrish, Louisiana


    We operate in a similiar way.

    We, and one other FD in the parish operate on our own frequencies. The other 6 departments operate on the 911 frequency.

    When we are dispatched, a dispatcher, who is assigned a shift and has a portable radio, signs on. At this point, we communicate with him only, unless we need mutual aid or the sheriff's department. In that case we will switch over to the 911 frequency, contact parish dispatch, make our request, then switch back. Depending on the dispatchers on duty at parish dispatch, they may or may not moniter our traffic. Our FD dispatcher records all arrrival time and such. Parish dispatch record that for the other FDs but not ours.

    If parish dispatch receives additional info while we are enroute, they will give it to us on our frequency.

    We do not advise the parish dispatch of the status of our apparatus or availibility for another run. If another call comes in, they tone it out. We will advise them if we need mutual aid to cover it, which is rare.

    The system works well for us.

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