Thursday, March 16, 2017

Dispatch review comes under fire

RICHARD ROLKE Thu Mar 16th, 2017 2:25pm Morning Star:
The City of Vernon is being blasted for investigating whether some jobs should be outsourced. A request for proposals is being launched to determine if contracting out fire hall dispatch services could reduce costs. ””We understand they are trying to be cost effective but we’re disappoionted that they’re moving forward with this process,” said Brent Bond, president of the Vernon Professional Firefighters Association, which represents the four dispatchers. “We will show the services currently provided are superior and more cost effective than in other communities.” Currently, the stand-alone dispatch service in Vernon costs $549,355 per year and anticipated savings through contracting out are about $250,000 per year. City officials defend the decision to consider an alternative model of delivery. “Our dispatchers are providing excellent support to our department and the community,” said David Lind, interim fire chief. “This decision to investigate contracted services in no way reflects on their skill or the work they do.” The department currently uses a single dispatch station normally operated by one employee.
“In large scale and large call volume events, both the dispatcher and dispatch centre can be overwhelmed. This could leave the organization and the community at risk as a result of system failures and delayed call processing or dispatching,” states the city in a release. “Larger centres typically have two or more staff assigned on a 24/7 basis. Dispatch facilities are secure and there are normally back-up provisions in the event of a system or facility failure. “ Contracting out dispatch services has occurred in many communities, including Cranbrook, where Lind previously worked. “No decision has been made at this point. A request for proposals process will provide us with the information needed to properly assess the potential reduction in costs and risk,” said Lind. While Bond admits that contracting out is a trend across the province, he doesn’t believe it’s been successful. “Some of these cities are not happy with the service and they’re not realizing the savings they expected,” he said.
News Release City of Vernon.

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