SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

April 10, 2014

Dispatch center under capacity

Communities waiting for upgrades before jumping on board

(Continued)

The fact that the other four communities are not fully on board does not mean things are going wrong.

“One of the reasons we didn’t set a schedule was we wanted to do things properly, safely and efficiently,” Pratt said.

Plans are to bring Topsfield on within the next month or so. An issue with fire alarm connectivity has been addressed, and there are plans to install a camera in the police station vestibule in case someone comes into the station and no one is there. Topsfield is also awaiting software which will allow regional dispatchers to generate accident reports for officers.

Amesbury cannot join until the center builds a 250-foot tower, which will keep communications signals between the center and the city from being blocked. The 80-foot temporary tower is not tall enough. Pratt said the tower should be finished by May or June.

Beverly is waiting for fire alarm connectivity, he said.

“They should be coming over fairly soon,” Pratt said.

In host community Middleton, the RECC answers all 911 calls, and there is partial police and fire dispatch.

“Right now, we are waiting for software for an accident module,” said Middleton police Chief James DiGianvittorio. The software will allow regional dispatchers to create accident reports that officers can fill out electronically.

Fire Department calls go to the regional center, and the center dispatches fire calls with some exceptions. With major fires, box alarms, fire alarms and reports of odors inside buildings, the center relays those calls to Middleton. The center dispatches medical aid, accidents and other calls.

“This is their request,” Pratt said. “We are here to work with Middleton.”

The regional center was first proposed several years ago for 13 communities. So far, six have agreed to join. The center has faced skepticism from public safety unions. Danvers selectmen voted against the idea in 2009 over concerns of creating more bureaucracy and costs.

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