Devens, Lancaster, Shirley, Harvard and Lunenburg regional dispatch | MassCops

Devens, Lancaster, Shirley, Harvard and Lunenburg regional dispatch

Discussion in 'Dispatch / Communications' started by JamnJim18, Jul 10, 2011.

  1. JamnJim18

    JamnJim18 Guest

    It appears that the talks of the regional dispatch for the communities of Devens, Lancaster, Shirley, Harvard and Lunenburg are moving forward quickly. Devens Fire Department is pushing the idea among the local towns, which I believe is because Devens Fire may be closing down because of the lack of calls. Anyway, the town of Shirley is now questioning the savings and may be backing out of this, but the town of Harvard and Lunenburg are full speed ahead with the idea.

    The 5 communities collectively employ 20 full time dispatchers and many more per diem/part time dispatchers. The newly formed Nashoba Valley Regional Emergency Communication Center would be operational by July 1st, 2012 and only employ 15 dispatchers, including a manager and supervisor. There are three dispatchers that have over 25 years experience within the communities and would lose all their benefits, seniority, vacation time, etc. Many more have 10+ years of service in. .

    Harvard's article: - NewsArticles/Print.aspx?tabid=2176&tabmoduleid=7736&articleId=7203&moduleId=3353&PortalID=0&PageID=7203

    hirley's article:

    eigh in on how you feel about regional dispatch services...
  2. mpd61

    mpd61 Retired Fed, Active Special

    The only opinion most relevant would be J801's IMHO...
  3. firefighter39

    firefighter39 Subscribing Member

    Haven't heard about DFD shutting down. Mass Redevlopemnt and US Army would have to contract with one of the towns for FD protection so I don't see a big savings there.

    Regional Disp makes sense, as does regional FD's and PD's. Starting with dispatch would probably be easier politically than with either an FD or PD. I think most town residents still want their own PD/FD but could care less who answers the phone, and in this economy I think it will be an easy sell on the cost savings. PD and FD unions usually have more political power than the dispatchers, if they are even unionized. Regionalizing dispatch would be a great first step toward eventually regionalizing the PD and FD's
  4. rg1283

    rg1283 MassCops Member

    MA is one of few states to have 911 PSAPS in almost every town, when E911 was being implemented they should have thought of this.

    I don't think the individual town radio frequencies will change since portable coverage will be an issue
  5. Delta784

    Delta784 Guest

    I'm surprised that Ayer isn't included in this.
  6. rg1283

    rg1283 MassCops Member

    since I think Ayer has the largest share of Devens land. These towns Are pretty quiet besides route 2
  7. JamnJim18

    JamnJim18 Guest

    70% of Devens is in Harvard.
  8. Dividedbyzero

    Dividedbyzero MassCops Member

    The described cost savings numbers that have been publicized at least so far does not add up to what is being advertised, and I disagree that callers generally don't care who answers the phone. Having people who live in the town they Dispatch for is an underappreciated asset to the town's Emergency Services teams. No one is really talking about the additional, non-emergency, type calls that come in to Police & Fire/EMS stations every day; Those calls --and any walk-ins-- are apparently just being assumed to be passed along to the existing Chiefs' Admins once regionalization is all said & done. A lot more thought and questioning of "facts" presented needs to be put in before just signing off on this.
  9. The_Doctor

    The_Doctor MassCops Member

    Do not go over the top with this! Of course you have a force protection requirement. You must keep people at the building in order to provide security.

    My town has consolidated some dispatch with the another town. Part of the reasoning was the ability of the other town to actually insert the hardware and get our local frequencies going. The Fire Chief and the Police Chief would not agree on where the town centralized Dispatch center would be situated. The newer building for the Police station was not errected with much thought to dispatch. Additionally, it was placed at low ground. This provides portable coverage issues.

    The dispatch center at the brand new building in the adjacent town is on the same elevation as a major communications tower. It has great coverage.

    It is saving money for the town.

    In this day we have to stop being so foolish. A 24/7 Dispatch would cost us a lot of money which would come out of Officers on the street.

    We must prioritize our resources. Going forward municipal unions must realize that this is coming. They work to stay ahead of the game and provide options. Those who provide options will obviously have more members in the future while the others will not have any dues paying members.

    Next step for my town is consolidation of health and veterans' agents with other towns.

  10. j809

    j809 Subscribing Member

    The stations would be closed after 5pm pr 8pm depending on PD. You need a question answered, you ring a bell that goes to the regional dispatch center.

    The savings will not be as much as anticipated and if one town or more drop out then other towns left pickup the difference

    All these towns have civilian dispatcher and officers never dispatch there. Lancaster would use a reserve officer once in a while but no full timers.

    Although other states do have the regional PSAP 911 centers, the 911 calls get forwarded to the particular police departments that are staffed by those town's employees. So there is someone over there and they dispatch the call. The difference here is that all dispatching and 911 will be done at the regional center.
  11. The_Doctor

    The_Doctor MassCops Member

  12. j809

    j809 Subscribing Member

    You have no idea what you are talking about buddy. I work for one of these towns in the agreements and there will be NO ONE there after 6 or 8pm. Its locked up and you go on patrol. Also officers will not stay in the station to greet people walking in. That will be manned by civilians and as such less of a savings to the town as another salary will have to be paid. Don't believe me? Call Hopedale and Millville PD. Mendon does theirs

    Wrong, budget for police and dispatch are separated. Chief cannot take dispatch money and shift it to police.

    All the towns in the agreement are so small and understaffed we barely have enough officers to fill our shifts, so i don't think layoffs are viable without eliminating the midnight shift. I'm hoping some of the money or all of the savings will be shifted to police staffing.
  13. SinePari

    SinePari Needs more complaints

    They certainly have time to call up the MSP barrack and bitch about the dumbest things that are waaaaaaaaaaaaay out of their lane. If had that gig I'd keep my mouth SHUT and not draw attention to my sham job.
  14. Dividedbyzero

    Dividedbyzero MassCops Member

    If it's saving money for your town then bully for you but that isn't the issue we are talking about here, and I don't feel I am going over the top: The fact is, town Selectmen are voting forward an issue which affects every resident in that town without bringing the subject up for public discussion. This means they are actively working to enact this Regionalization plan without consulting the public whom this change would be directly impacting, and that is one of my major disagreements with this whole plan. Another is, as I mentioned, that the fiscal numbers being discussed by these individuals and used for consideration of the merits of Regionalization for the towns in question are at least somewhat ficticious....and in some cases grossly overstated.

    Understand what I'm trying to communicate:
    I am not saying that Regionalization as a concept is flawed; For more metropolitan areas, it obviously works quite well.
    I am saying that trying to lump 4 or 5 smaller towns together and dispatch for all of their Public Safety divisions has unavoidable inequity built into it. For the towns being discussed specifically, Devens dispatches almost nothing for their area while Lunenburg has by far the highest radio & dispatch traffic; Lancaster, Harvard & Shirley all fall at varying places between those two, so when you talk about "Regional Dispatch" it would basically be more Centralized Lunenburg Dispatch with a few calls from 4 other towns thrown in between, yet all 5 towns tossing their money into the hat for that.

    And while we're on that topic:
    If you really want to "stop being foolish," then what really needs to happen is we need to break the stranglehold the Regional School Districts have over the flow of money in these towns.... But of course that won't happen. It's easier to "save money" by cutting existing jobs, apparently.
  15. Dividedbyzero

    Dividedbyzero MassCops Member

    Bah. Auto-logout killed my original response so I'll just try to condense:

    If it is saving money for your town then bully for you. My point was, and still is, the fiscal numbers being "publically" discussed by the towns' Selectmen are somewhat inaccurate and in some specific instances grossly overstated. Moreover these officials are voting forward an issue which affects each town resident without ANY public forum or debate. I don't agree with this method at all.

    If you we really want to "stop being so foolish" then someone needs to break the stranglehold the Regional School Districts have over the flow of funds in these towns. ...But of course this will never happen; It is easier to cut existing jobs & services to "save money."
  16. mc2252

    mc2252 Badge101432

    ayer does not want to be a part of it, partly I think because we dont support firing all our dispatchers since the thing is gonna be run by the station. But the towns Im hearing do not include Shirley either...though I dont see how they cant since they are broke again.
  17. CrackPot

    CrackPot MassCops Member

    Can't say that I am a fan of this. I was a Selectman in one of the mentioned communities for 6 years and went through multiple studies on regionalization. The best case cost savings was <$50k/yr in the most optimistic projections. What is lost is local knowledge, someone at the police station 24/7, and continuity. Firing the existing dispatchers with 20+ years of experience and making them start anew just rubs me the wrong way.

    I see this as a very poor decision with questionable cost benefit analysis. I think you will find that there are very different motivations in fact for the people pushing this.
    Dividedbyzero and j809 like this.
  18. SinePari

    SinePari Needs more complaints

    Federal grant $$$
  19. Dividedbyzero

    Dividedbyzero MassCops Member

    Correct, Shirley is currently not on-board with this but may hop on down the road IF things go well for the new Regional Dispatch Center. I wish Lancaster & Shirley were both of the same mind as Ayer in not wanting to lose their 20+ year experienced Dispatchers. I am happy to see it's not just me feeling like local knowledge and continuity would be lost in this. Even though I am just a newbie to Dispatch I'd rather not see the jobs taken away from us in this fashion.
  20. SinePari

    SinePari Needs more complaints

    If you look at regional dispatch centers run by the state police, you'll find that the towns are well-served by dispatchers who may work for the state but are local residents nonetheless. Towns contract with the state for service but I believe the cost is 0. These regional center plans are beginning to pop up everywhere (for federal E-911 $$$) and the monolith public safety megaplexes are being built, but once the grant money is dried up guess who's gonna be holding the bill (property taxes).

    I read notes from a communications meeting that compared MA to I believe it was the state of MD in population. Our state has 351 independent dispatch centers (per se), but MD has a dozen or so run by the state. Seems to work pretty good for MD but when you're talking about losing a MA town's independence and dispatchers things get a little sticky.
  21. JamnJim18

    JamnJim18 Guest

    Shirley isn't on board with the idea right now and I have heard it is because the town has a very sour taste in their mouth after the school system burned them over $500k. Also, this new regional dispatch agreement discusses replacing equipment every couple of years and that is a cost that is placed on the towns involved. For a town like Shirley who has had the same radio equipment for 15+ years and computers that are 8-10 years old doesn't have the spare cash to invest $20-30k every other year to replace equipment.

    Also, citizens in towns like Harvard and Lunenburg are accustomed to being able to walk into their stations and having that personal contact with the department. If they showed up and had to pick up a phone outside the front door after 6pm at night, they would be disappointed and perhaps lose faith in the department. These residents are "entitled" and want that interaction.

    I've worked for a department out of state that utilized county dispatch services and had 13 towns using one dispatch center that had three dispatchers working every shift. The radio traffic was all on one frequency, which gave us a good idea what was going on, but there were times that I'd be out with a vehicle and I would need to wait in queue for 5 minutes or more to make contact with a dispatcher. There were other times that a town had a situation going on that required that all the dispatchers working focus on that town only. it was called a "Signal 1000" and no other town was permitted radio traffic for the duration of the call. At least with individual towns having their own dispatchers, it eliminates those issues.

    These 5 towns from what I understand will all be on their own individual frequency. I know when the fire department is communicating with dispatch, the police frequency cannot be heard and visa versa. Let's say there are emergencies going on in three towns at the same time and fire, ems and police services are being dispatched, and then one of the other towns makes a traffic stop or needs some other info and is unable to make contact with the regional dispatch, it will most likely upset that officer and would cause a delay in police or emergency services. It will be a headache and most likely cause friction between the dispatchers and emergency personnel in each town.

    If you listen to the scanner, Lunenburg has the highest call volume or radio usage. Let's say Lunenburg is always communicating with dispatch and is taking up a lot of air time, it may cause friction with the other towns because they aren't getting equal airtime usage. I can hear the complaints now.

    At the end of the day, if all 5 towns are involved in this regional dispatch, that would mean that out of the approx 20 dispatchers (4 full timers for each town) only 8 will have full time jobs. Out of those towns, there are 3 dispatchers with 30+ years on the job and many others with 15+ years of service. I know that politics is playing a huge part in this regionalizing, but to put 12 people out of work, some of which have 30 years of experience, just doesn't sit well with me.

    Off my soap box.

  22. chief801

    chief801 Subscribing Member

    While completely entitled to stand atop your soap box, it may behoove you to do some fact finding before spreading misinformation amongst the masses....your opinions are fine, but please be factually accurate before making them...

    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. Abraham Lincoln
  23. FAPD

    FAPD MassCops Member

    Well he spoke and I guess he's for it. Maybe?
  24. j809

    j809 Subscribing Member

    I'm j809 I'm not the big guy!! Lol I have mixed feelings about it
  25. SinePari

    SinePari Needs more complaints

    Some people are too busy for friction. Tough cookies if others' call volume sucks ass.

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