In his report at the , Town Manager noted that the 75 cent 911 fee on people’s phone bills had passed through the House and Senate, which should provide grants for regionalizing dispatch.
“The process has been fairly aggressive,” said at the May 3 Fire Commission meeting.
He reported that there are three possible locations for a regional dispatch center–the , and . The process involves installing a 100-foot communication tower and many system upgrades, which would be covered by the grant money received.
While the process has been aggressive, Mayor Anthony Candelora also noted that it is lengthy.
“The town has applied for a grant in Hartford to get monies for equipment,” he said. “The goal is to have it in place by the end of year.”
CMED, a regional dispatch center, is looking to move operations out of New Haven and approached North Branford’s town manager and mayor. CMED currently serves 17 towns with others considering joining including East Haven and possibly Branford, according to Seward.
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Both Seward and Candelora said the driving force for transitioning to a regional dispatch center is the savings with Candelora noting it could save the town up to $400,000.
“There’s a lot of regionalization is going on–it makes sense and saves money,” said Candelora.
The dispatch center would include anywhere from six to 10 stations with trained dispatchers dispatching for North Branford and other participating towns on upgraded equipment.
“This could really bring us into the 21st century,” said Candelora.
Seward also pointed out that CMED services 17 communities with three or four dispatchers on duty whereas if dispatch was not regionalized, each of the 17 towns would be employing at least one dispatcher.
When the Fire Commissioners questioned whether three or four people could handle calls for 17 or more towns, Seward reiterated that North Branford currenly has just one dispatcher and that the Connecticut State Police operate statewide through just three dispatch centers.
In addition to cost savings for towns involved and technological upgrades, Seward said another benefit is improving the working environment for dispatchers, police officers and firefighters.
“This can only be accomplished by a regional effort or if the town hires more dispatchers so there’s more than one on duty at any time,” said Seward.
While the idea is being looked into, there are several more steps before it can be realized including a public hearing and approval from the Town Council.
Police Chief Matthew Canelli had no comment on the subject.