Barstow Moves To Consolidate Police & Fire Department Dispatch Operations

BARSTOW—In a move toward self-sufficiency and faster response time, the city of Barstow will consolidate its fire department and police department dispatch functions.
Currently, the police department operates its own dispatch center and the fire department contracts with the county’s fire service dispatch system, known as Confire JPA Communications, which operates out of a communications center in Rialto. The contract with Confire currently runs at $179,000 per year.
The police department dispatch system fielded well over 33,000 calls of all type and order of magnitude in the last year. Roughly 10,000 of those were for emergency services most logically provided by the fire department. Those calls were immediately patched through to the Rialto Confire JPA communications system, which in turn reached a determination as to which of the Barstow Fire Protection District’s two fire stations would be the most logical first responder and second responder, and dispatched crews accordingly.
The Barstow Fire Protection District is a subsidiary district of the city. This month, the city council, acting as the governing board for the district, voted to enter into an arrangement by which the police department’s dispatch center will be expanded and the city’s contract with Confire JPA will be terminated so that the city’s dispatch center will handle all emergency calls, police, fire and medical.
The changeover will result in a one-time $164,000 cost to augment the existing police dispatch center with the requisite equipment and computer software to allow for the efficient sorting of calls and the routing of a call for action to the appropriate station.
The police department dispatch center, which already employs six full time dispatchers, will hire two more full-time dispatchers and another two part-time dispatchers. All ten will be provided with training to make them capable of dispatching in response to police, fire and medical calls and emergencies. The four new hires and training for all ten employees will cost the city an estimated $191,000 for the first year of operation.
City officials hope to have the fire department weaned off of the Confire system by September, at which point the new safety division dispatch center will be entirely up and running.
By eliminating the middle call from Barstow to Rialto, officials believe response time will be improved and that coordination between the police department and fire department will be improved, and in certain cases provide for greater safety for responders and superior response to those involved in traumatic incidents.

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