Brian Schaeffer

Change to how emergency calls answered

Brian Schaeffer, Fire Chief, No Phone Number Available

Tuesday, January 26, 2021 at 5:24 p.m.

Change to how emergency calls answered

The Spokane Fire Department (SFD) and the Spokane Regional Emergency Communications (SREC) agency have spent more than a year working to formalize a regional working relationship that delivers the best, most reliable emergency communications services to the community.

That discussion, and a short trial period of a joint emergency communications operation, have paused temporarily while the respective agencies refocus on their missions. As a result, on February 1, the SFD will again be responsible for taking emergency calls, sending the right resources, and facilitating the communication of those resources for the City of Spokane and Spokane International Airport departments.

As someone who may need to call 911 from your residence, child’s schools, place of employment, airport, or other location within the city limits, your calls will continue to be answered, and help sent quickly to you. SFD’s automatic aid (i.e., closest unit responds) and special operations agreements with neighboring fire districts and departments will also continue without interruption.

The emergency communications discussion is focused on what happens behind the scenes when you call 911. The two agencies are exploring ways to utilize regional resources better and lower the cost to deliver those services all while getting help to you even quicker while keeping first responders safe.

Voters have twice overwhelmingly supported a singular communitywide approach to emergency communications. Currently, more than a dozen fire departments and districts work together to provide those services for the collective Spokane community. SFD and SREC have been talking about how SFD can join that emergency communications collective.

What does that mean for City residents?
There will not be a noticeable difference when you call 911 for a fire or medical emergency. A fire truck or medical aid vehicle will still be sent quickly to you. All that is changing is who answers the phone when you call.

What happens when I call 911 for a fire or medical emergency within the city of Spokane limits?
SREC will answer the call, ask some initial questions to understand the nature of the call, transfer the call to SFD dispatchers, who will ask many of the same questions and ask for more details about your emergency, and send help to you. SREC dispatchers will continue to provide emergency backup during high-intensity, large-scale events, such as the recent windstorm, where call-volume peaks for a short period.

Will a City fire truck or medical aid vehicle still show up when I call?
Yes. City emergency fire and medical resources will still respond to your calls for help. The conversation with SREC is about developing a formal regional relationship that better utilizes community equipment and people resources for emergency communications needs.

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