Posted Thursday February 7, 2019

A Step Forward

Agreement reached to create a consolidated fire communications centre for Waterloo region

"Unified and integrated approach to fire dispatch service within the region will improve community safety"

The cities of Kitchener and Cambridge announced that an agreement has been reached between the two municipalities, the Kitchener Professional Fire Fighters Association (KPFFA) and the Cambridge Professional Fire Fighters Association (CPFFA) to create a single, unified fire communications centre.

“Taking a unified and integrated approach to fire dispatch service within the region will improve community safety and help our firefighters respond to emergency calls faster,” said Cambridge Mayor Kathryn McGarry. “This agreement is a prime example of the spirit of collaboration within our region, and shows how we work well together to deliver results for our different local communities.”

A unified approach to fire dispatch services within the region will improve community and firefighter safety by:

• allowing better collaboration and communication between fire departments and other emergency services;
• supporting smoother automatic aid in border areas;
• ensuring callers have consistent access to trained fire dispatchers;
• faster response times; and
• improving control and coordination of major incidents.

Currently, there are two fire dispatch centres in the region - one in Kitchener, providing fire communications services for Kitchener, Waterloo, Woolwich, Wellesley and Wilmot and one in Cambridge, providing fire communications services to Cambridge and North Dumfries. Under this agreement, there will be one dispatch centre located at Kitchener Fire Headquarters.

“This agreement will help keep our firefighters safe and ensure that we can respond quickly to all residents, regardless of where or what type of support they need,” said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. “This is another example of how municipalities across Waterloo region have a shared vision of efficient and effective citizen focused service delivery.”

The fire dispatch centre will be implementing a new computer aided dispatch system that is integrated with our public safety partners at Waterloo Region Police Service. This new dispatch technology will allow both the fire and police service to share data, mapping software and dispatch information on the same platform.

In 2014, Kimball Consulting released a report that encouraged local councils to work towards consolidating emergency dispatch services within the Region of Waterloo. Introducing a centralized fire dispatch and a shared technology platform accomplishes a significant amount of the report’s recommendations.

Now that the agreement has been finalized, staff will begin working on the transition details which include finalizing the legal and financial agreements. It is expected that the centralized dispatch centre will be in place this spring.

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