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Springfield, Mass., Emergency Dispatch Center Proving Its Worth

The nearly $1 million center opened last year in the Fire Department’s former fire alarm headquarters building. The center’s goals were to enhance communication between Police and Fire and speed up call response.

A police dispatcher looks at his monitors Friday at the city's new combined police and fire emergency dispatch center.
Patrick Johnson | pjohnson/TNS
(TNS) - A second phase of work is ongoing to ensure the city’s centralized dispatch center has the most up-to-date technology available, Fire Commissioner Bernard J. Calvi told city councilors this week.

The nearly $1 million center opened last year in the Fire Department’s former fire alarm headquarters building on Roosevelt Avenue. The center’s main goals were to enhance communication between the Police and Fire departments and speed up call response times.

Calvi appeared before the City Council’s Public Safety Committee on Monday to provide an update on the center and answer questions.

Previously, each department had its own dispatch center, and bringing them together under one roof was an effort that took some 15 years to accomplish.

The initial work to establish the center, which opened in February 2021, cost “just shy of $800,000,” according to the fire commissioner.

“We completely gutted the facility back to the studs and began rebuilding a state-of-the-art dispatch facility, which included new flooring, new furniture, new radios, new computers, all new hard wiring and interconnection,” Calvi said. “We then have fiber-optic line that was run in there by the city.”

The second phase of work, now underway, according to Calvi, is to have a unified computer-aided dispatch system.

“We are in contract negotiations with Motorola to be a single-source CAD vendor and then police (Records Management System) for the city of Springfield,” Calvi said. “That is going to be the next step to streamlining the operation.”

Because the contract negotiations are ongoing, Calvi said he was unable to make a final cost prediction.

One of the questions the committee submitted to Calvi asked how the centralized dispatch center is cost-effective and how it maximizes resources.

“All the dispatchers are co-located in one unified facility with one unified management team and have around-the-clock supervision, which we did not have before (when we were) in two disjointed centers,” Calvi said. “For supervision reasons alone, this is a huge win for dispatch and for the citizens of the city.”

In response to a question from Ward 8 Councilor Zaida Govan about how the center has helped improve response times, Calvi said having the team under one roof helps coordinate response by each department.

“They’re just 5 feet away (from each other),” Calvi said. “If the Fire Department needs assistance from the Police Department, it’s the same thing. The radio operators are 5 feet apart.”

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