Vernon City Council has authorized Vernon Fire Rescue Services (VFRS) to research contracting out dispatch services through a Request for Proposals (RFP) in order to determine if an alternative delivery model could reduce costs and provide a more robust service.
“Our dispatchers are providing excellent support to our department and the community,” said 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. 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.
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.
“No decision has been made at this point,” said Lind. “An RFP process will provide us with the information needed to properly assess the potential reduction in costs and risk.”
Currently, the cost of stand-alone dispatch services in Vernon is $549,355 per year. Anticipated savings as a result of contracting services are approximately $250,000 per year.