The City of Vernon will take a closer look at contracting out its fire dispatch service.
Council has approved a request for proposals to determine if an different delivery model could reduce costs and provide a more robust service.
“Our dispatchers are providing excellent support to our department and the community,” says David Lind, Interim Chief of VFRS. “This decision to investigate contracted services in no way reflects on their skill or the work they do.”
Vernon Fire Dispatch currently utilizes a single dispatch station normally operated by one staff member. 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,” says Lind. “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.”
Currently, the cost of stand-alone dispatch services in Vernon is $549,355 per year. Anticipated savings as a result of contracting services are about $250,000 per year.
The practice of contracting out dispatch services in a growing trend in B.C. communities such as Cranbrook, Fort St. John, Penticton, Salmon Arm and Dawson Creek.
Lind says no decision has been made at this point
“An RFP process will provide us with the information needed to properly assess the potential reduction in costs and risk.”