JAN 2017

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FIRE DISPATCH by telephone companies or specialty firms. Twenty-four states currently have legisla- tion in place or under consideration that would allow a user to dial 9-1-1 rather than 9-9-1-1 or some similar combination. (For more on this, see "9-1-1 & Multi-Line Tele- phone Systems" in the April 2015 issue.) 5. Your district NFPA 1221 may or may not be in force in your area. Unless you are operating a rig that has been cobbled together from spare parts by your department, chances are your vehicles meet NFPA 1901 stan- dards. Major fire apparatus manufacturers routinely comply with this document and build accordingly. And, if you are not using hand-me-down gear, new PPE will be pro- duced to satisfy NFPA 1971. Any doubts that you might have concerning suitability are easily erased by a label affixed to the garment attesting to conformity. However, determining the status of your dispatching is not as easy. There are no visible tags to declare compliance with NFPA 1221. For example, cutting communica- tions center construction costs may reduce redundancies in vital components or strip back security. However, the personnel- related sections of the standard, which are the most crucial to operations, may also be the most frequently overlooked. Although moves toward consolidated dispatch centers may improve the number of telecommunicators on duty, there are still numerous smaller PSAPs in opera- tion. Regardless of the size of the center, adequate authorized staffing and actual crew levels may be entirely different things. Turnover in these positions is high, and shortages of trained operators have existed for decades. Even more problematic is the assumption of a dedicated dispatcher being assigned to mayday communications. While this is ideal, it may likely be idealis- tic. Many centers do not have the luxury of assigning anyone to a single task through simple lack of numbers. Shorthanded oper- ations in the 9-1-1 center present the same challenges as those on the fireground. Finally, and perhaps of greater con- cern, is that while NFPA 1061 established professional standards for public safety telecommunications personnel, there are no adopted nationwide regulations for telecommunicators, nor is there a univer- sal registry as exists for EMTs. In fact, qualifications may often be a local matter, with a number of states having little or no governance whatsoever. In sum The effectiveness of NFPA 1221, like any standard, relies on enactment and enforce- ment. Because of the extreme importance of this document, fire service personnel should familiarize themselves with their local dispatch center, technology, staffing and procedures with an eye to correcting any deficiencies found. n For More Technology & Communications Request information at e-inquiry Request information at e-inquiry 68 l Firehouse l January 2017

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