Erin Fire dispatch services to be fully run by Guelph Fire

ERIN  — The City of Guelph will now be responsible for all dispatch services for the Erin fire department.

The decision comes as part of the Erin’s Master Fire Plan, which is aimed at boosting efficiency for the department.

Guelph Fire had already been partially monitoring the fire dispatch services for the town, according to Erin Fire Chief Jim Sawkins.

“What I’m proposing we move towards is a full dispatch service where they will monitor our calls from start to finish – recording, proper note taking. This will be to the national fire protection association standard,” he told Erin council at its Feb. 2 meeting.

This service will include Guelph Fire monitoring Erin’s calls, tracking when firefighters are on scene, when the fire is out, how many vehicles were involved in an incident, and how many victims. Guelph will send a report with all of that information back to Erin Fire.

The partial dispatch service the fire department currently has means one firefighter has to remain at the station to take over dispatch.

With the new arrangement, Guelph will monitor dispatch from its location and all Erin fighters can respond on scene.

“We can get [the fire fighters] out at the tip of the spear where they are needed, doing what they’re trained to do,” said Sawkins.

This change was already accounted for in the annual budget, he said, adding the fire department is not looking for additional funds to cover the change, but needs final approval from council.

Councillor John Brennan questioned the fire chief on the practicality of the request, noting, “For as long as I’ve been on council, radios have been a problem for both the fire department and the roads department, largely because of the terrain we have in Erin.”

Sawkins assured council members the problems with radio signals have been corrected.   

Erin council approved the request to transition to full dispatch services from Guelph.