Patch has learned that all Garden City Fire Department dispatching duties were turned over to Nassau County Firecom effective 9 a.m. Monday.
This was one of 14 recommendations included in an 85-page report analyzing the village's fire services. The village board of trustees engaged the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) to provide the report at a cost of $36,000.
As first reported on Friday, trustees directed village administrator Robert Schoelle in writing to have two recommendations implemented immediately - #8: Change dispatch to Firecom to improve dispatch/turnout time and allow continued achievement of response time performance and #6: Eliminate staffing at satellite stations during night hours. Review the necessity for daytime staffing at the satellite stations following the recommended change in dispatching.
Recommendation #8 took effect today while recommendation #6 has not yet been implemented.
Chief Charles Cavarra, who just returned from a chiefs' convention in Colorado, confirmed Monday that he too received the board's directive. "The dispatching was easy and simple and something that should've been done years ago," Cavarra said regarding the switch to Firecom.
He said the department's dispatch time is currently in the "5 and 6 minute" range when dispatching should really be in the "one minute to one-and-a-half minute area."
"Response time is dispatch time and travel time so our overall response time would drop," he said.
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As for the recommendation to reduce manning, Chief Cavarra said he, his assistant chiefs and company officers are currently discussing the options and "playing with the numbers" to figure out the best way to operate.
"The report is an overall evaluation that included some very efficient suggestions," he added.
While Chief Cavarra says the move to Firecom will actual reduce overall response time, some say just the opposite.
An anonymous source close to the situation told Patch the switch has its drawbacks: "If someone dialed 746-2800, which is the Garden City village emergency line, it would ring in all three firehouses. This way all of the firefighters in all three firehouses could hear the call. Stations 2 and 3 could hang up the phone and go right out the door. Now if someone dials the village fire emergency number the caller is only heard by the FC dispatcher. The FC dispatcher has to key it into a computer to find the house on a map. Next he needs to key all of the information into an alarm sheet. After that's all done he tones out the alarm via radio which is when all of us will first be alarted about the alarm. This will delay the response from all stations."