By Nikki Jamieson
With about four months until the launch of the Municipal District of Taber Regional Fire Service, the M.D. is partnering with Taber police for emergency dispatch services.
During their regular Sept. 27 meeting, the Municipal District of Taber council accepted a memorandum of understanding with the Taber Police Service regarding fire dispatch calls.
“This is the understanding that we’ll have with the Taber Police Service with respect as to what we expect for dispatch and fire for the M.D. of Taber operations — all five departments,” said Bryce Surina, director of GIS and IT for the M.D. “This was set up by council, to come up with a long term solution that will work with both, mutually beneficial to both parties, making sure that the services that we receive meet our needs on an on-going basis, with the ability to review the memorandum of understanding on an annual basis.”
According to a memo to council, the TPS has been in charge of the fire dispatch service within the Town of Taber, the M.D. of Taber, Town of Vauxhall and Village of Barnwell. Together, the parties have collaborated in obtaining funding for the development of a state-of-the art Emergency Radio Communications System, an Automatic Vehicle Locator System, Mapping & Spatial Data Sharing Initiatives and a Computer Aided Dispatch System.
While the costs of this agreement are higher than those in past agreements, this agreement achieves three goals set by M.D. council: the direction of both long-term and sustainable; the agreement continues to meet the fire dispatch needs for all of the M.D. fire services — M.D. Regional Service in Taber, the hamlets of Grassy Lake, Enchant and Hays and the Regional Fire Authority in Vauxhall; a higher level of participation by the M.D. in future development and maintenance of dispatch equipment and programs assured; and the agreement provides for the operating terms to ensure complete disclosure and accountability.
Additionally, the agreement helps ensure that the emergency dispatch service stays local.
“That was one of the concerns, that the 9-1-1 dispatch might be moved,” said Brian Brewin, Reeve for the M.D. “But it will be staying here, with what we had previously.”
In addition to an annual meeting, Surina says that the groups plan to meet quite frequently, as the M.D. is involved with the regular mapping application that the dispatch and TPS use, and they also will be meeting to discuss needs or concerns that pop up as the partnership progresses.
“We’ll be meeting to talk about those needs quite regularly, but also on an annual basis, we’ll address it at a higher level,” said Surina. “So, we’ll look for funding to cover the upgrades and things that come up along the way, and identify those as, you know, which ones are needs, wants, advancements, things like that.”
The system is also scalable, in case the TPS takes on another municipality, or if their current area takes on an influx of people, to provide dispatching services to.
Every part of the system, from the dispatch applications to radio communications, can be adjusted depending on the areas they serve.
“The segments are very much scaleable, and they’re very much able to do that,” said Surina. “Their operations would require some changes, they would have staffing changes and requirements, but that would be something they would have to deal with and incorporate into their business model.”