Calif. city mulls combining fire, police dispatch

Retired Cal Fire Chief Bill Sagar wrote a letter as a citizen of Oroville opposing the combined dispatch

By Mary Weston
The Oroville Mercury Register

OROVILLE, Calif. — The City Council will take up combining police and fire dispatch at the end of a long meeting tonight.

In regular business, council will discuss several public-safety related issues.

They include a proposal by Chief Bill La Grone to submit an application for a $326,475 Community Oriented Policing Services grant that would fund one officer for three years.

The last three items on the agenda address the combining of police and fire dispatch.

Now, the Police Department handles its own dispatch at the police ad fire station. Fire Department dispatch goes through the Butte County-Cal Fire dispatch center.

Last month La Grone, with help from Fire Chief Charles Hurley, developed a proposal to combine police and fire dispatch at the same office, as the city did in the past.

Council directed staff to proceed with the combined dispatch, with Councilman David Pittman in opposition.

Tonight, staff will go into more detail on the proposal.

First, council will consider authorizing and submitting a proposed agreement to Mooretown Rancheria Tribal Law Enforcement and El Medio Fire District to become part of the dispatch consolidation.

Then, council will consider an amendment to the agreement with Cal Fire to extend a dispatch services contract with it.

The city's dispatch center would not be ready until probably mid-September, so staff has asked to extend the Cal Fire dispatch agreement from July 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011.

A report from La Grone and Hurley states Cal Fire Chief George Morris has agreed to allow the extension on a six-month basis that can be canceled after 120 days.

Council will then look at buying a new Computer Aided Dispatching and Public Records System for the combined dispatch center for a cost not to exceed $188,246.

Retired Cal Fire Chief Bill Sagar wrote a letter as a citizen of Oroville opposing the combined dispatch.

Sagar also submitted his own review of what he perceived as problems with the city of Oroville having a combined police and fire dispatch like the city of Chico and the town of Paradise.

Sagar stated the current dispatch system works well, and it would cost more money to expand the city's dispatch center than to continue with Cal Fire.

Sagar also states the city has no data to back up its dispatch proposal.

Tom Walker, another retired Cal Fire firefighter has also stated the city proposal was rushed and did not include enough analysis.

Walker also said the city combined dispatch would impact fire service in other areas, as two dispatchers would probably have to be cut from the Cal Fire command center.

Copyright 2011 Oroville Mercury Register
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