Posts Tagged WESCOM

Forest Park Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

Forest Park officials took action at Monday’s village council meeting that they hope will enhance the operations of the West Suburban Consolidated Dispatch Center (WESCOM) when the village joins next summer.

By a 5-0 vote, the council approved entering into a memorandum of understanding with Oak Park, River Forest, Elmwood Park, and WESCOM to apply for a $419,000 federal grant to upgrade fire dispatch equipment for all the agencies.

Forest Park officials voted in September to join WESCOM, acceding to a state of Illinois requirement that smaller municipalities combine municipal dispatch operations. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the consolidated dispatch law on June 29, 2015, after it was passed by the Illinois General Assembly earlier that year. The law requires municipalities throughout the state with populations of less than 25,000 to consolidate their dispatch operations by mid-2017 to reach that population number. With some communities — primarily downstate, without 911 centers — the law is seen as a first step toward universal 911 service statewide.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 2016-17 Regional Assistance to Firefighters grant would allow WESCOM to purchase state-of-the-art fire dispatch equipment. Forest Park has been working with the other agencies on the grant application since before the village officially joined in anticipation of eventually becoming a member.

According to the memo of understanding, Oak Park will be the lead agency, agreeing to administer the grant. Oak Park’s responsibilities will include asset accountability and reporting requirements.

Under terms of the application process, each agency will provide a cash match of 15 percent of the total cost of equipment to be purchased with grant funds. Of the total $493,572.02, all but $74,035.80 would be funded by the grant, the rest by the participating agencies.

Officials at the agencies determined the equipment they would need, leading to a different total for each. Forest Park’s total is $58,648, of which the 15 percent share would be $8,797.20 and the grant allocation would be $49,850.80. For the other agencies, Oak Park would pay $33,075.50 and receive $187,427.81; Elmwood Park would pay $18,314.03 and receive $103,779.51; River Forest would pay $7,317.42 and receive $41,465.41; and WESCOM would pay $6,531.65 and receive $37,012.69.

Excerpts from the

A federal fire assistance grant that Elmwood Park and other neighboring suburbs are seeking would improve response times and lead to a more efficient system, said an official with the West Suburban Consolidated Dispatch Center.

The center, based in River Forest, is the 911 center primarily responsible for dispatching police, fire and emergency calls for the communities of Elmwood Park, Oak Park and River Forest. The communities have joined together on a request for an Assistance to Firefighters grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which, if received, would be used to digitize the current system used by the dispatch center.

Computer-aided dispatch is a technology that has become more widespread in dispatch centers. Used in the west suburban center’s system, it would help to automate some of the dispatch, which would allow for quicker response times. Currently, dispatchers take 911 calls over the phone, and while taking down information, they  sometimes have to switch over to the radio, arranging for dispatch.

Digital technology would allow the dispatcher to send automated dispatch messages to fire stations, while continuing to talk to the caller and taking down information.

The Elmwood Park Village Board voted at its Nov. 21 meeting to back a resolution in support of an application to FEMA, the recommending agency on the fire assistance grants.

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Homer Township and Northwest Homer FPD news

Excerpts from the

Illinois American Water is partnering with the Homer Township Fire Protection District and Northwest Homer Fire and Ambulance Protection District to improve emergency communications for residents in the Southwest region.
Illinois American Water is donating space on the elevated water storage tank in the Village of Homer Glen to both fire protection districts who will have public safety communication devices installed.

According to Robert Tutko, fire chief for the Homer Township Fire Protection District, both districts had been experiencing radio communication issues in the area. In cooperation with WESCOM, it was determined an additional receiver site was needed along Bell Road between 143rd and 159th Streets.

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New dispatch center in Will County creates controversey

Excerpts from the

Police and fire agencies in western Will County said they feel slighted because the county is building a consolidated dispatch center for 30 agencies in eastern Will County and, if the county is paying for a new center for one group they believe it should pay for all.

The $5 million plan to add the new center when a new Sheriff’s Office facility is built this year is “generous but seriously misguided,” according to a resolution recently passed by the Bolingbrook Village Board.

But Will County officials call it efficient government, and said it is no different than spending money on major road improvements in one part of the county and not the other. Consolidation of dispatch centers has been mandated by the state.

Under a state mandate, Will County has to reduce the number of its dispatch centers from six to three. WESCOM and the City of Joliet will each continue to operate their centers, but the Will County Sheriff’s Office, Lincolnway Communications Center, Romeoville and Eastern Will County Communications Center (EASCOM) will all be consolidated into the new center at Laraway Road and Route 52 … which will include administrative offices for the county’s 911 board, which oversees all the dispatch centers.

Agencies within the Western Will County Communications Center — WESCOM — are expected to follow Bolingbrook’s resolution, which demands an equitable solution, noting that WESCOM, which dispatches calls for 21 police and fire departments from Bolingbrook to Wilmington, took on a $5 million bond issue to pay for its new dispatch center, which opened in 2014 in Plainfield.

The Lockport City Council discussed a resolution at its Wednesday night meeting. Lockport Police Chief Terry Lemming said he is happy the county is heeding a state mandate to consolidate the dispatch centers of 30 agencies to allow for better coordination, calling it a very effective way to do business.

But, on the other hand, he and other city officials are unhappy that Lockport residents, along with residents from all over the county, will have to help pay for the county’s $5 million project.

WESCOM members said the issue is equity not jealousy.

The Homer Township Fire District also is expected to pass a resolution similar to Bolingbrook’s at its May 2 meeting, to get the county’s attention, according to Fire Chief Robert Tutko … But they already have, and if the reaction during Thursday’s county board meeting is any indication, county officials are not likely to fork over any funds to WESCOM.

WESCOM built its own center in 2014 by issuing $5.1 million in bonds over 20 years and each agency is required to pay $271,000 as its share.

Bolingbrook Public Safety Director Tom Ross, said those served by WESCOM are paying twice — once for the WESCOM center, and again through the county’s use of RTA funds to build the new Sheriff’s Office facility.

“This is about being responsible to our taxpayers … We’re just asking for equity,” Ross said.

“No one is guaranteed equity. It’s hard to put a figure on circumstances like this,” said Crete Mayor Mike Einhorn, director of EASCOM, which includes 16 police and fire agencies.

“I don’t complain about what goes on in their half of the county. A majority of Will County money is spent on public works projects out there and not here. I could make the equity claim too, but that’s not how it works,” he said.

“We spend Will County money to benefit residents all over the county, whether it’s for roads or dispatch centers,” Palmer said. “People want efficient government. They want us to work together.”

WESCOM serves 44 percent of the county’s population and 21 police and fire agencies, compared to the new dispatch center, which will serve 33.7 percent of the people and 31 agencies when the three centers are consolidated. Joliet serves 21 percent of the population, but handles one-third of all calls, according to officials.

Rauter and Ross also fear they could lose member agencies to the new center … as … WESCOM was built for growth, and Romeoville residents would be better served by joining.

Currently half of Romeoville is served by Lockport Township Fire District which is part of WESCOM, and the other half by the Romeoville Fire Department. If it were part of WESCOM, it could reduce 3,600 transferred calls each year — about 10 per day, he said.

“But I can’t compete with free,” Rauter said.

Braidwood officials, who are now part of WESCOM, are thinking of moving into the new center, but Rauter hopes to meet with them and “work out their concerns.” Even if Braidwood left, it would still be required to pay its share of WESCOM’s debt for its building, he said.

thanks Dan

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Will County 911 dispatch

Excerpts from

Will County must have a plan to consolidate its six 911 dispatch centers into three by next July, and everything from where those centers should be located to how they should be funded to what they should include are unanswered questions.

In fact, there are only two knowns, according to Steve Rauter, executive director of WESCOM – Western Will County Communication Center – and chairman of the Will County Emergency Telephone System 9-1-1 Board long-range planning committee:

  1. A plan must be submitted to the state by July 2016;
  2. The plan must be implemented and the work completed by July 2017.

Failure to do so could result in the state cutting off the funds the county receives from fees collected by the state from phone service carriers, Rauter said.

“We’re taking this law seriously,” he said. “The Illinois State Police are writing the enforcement rules and administrating them, and if we don’t follow them they’re not going to fund us.”

In Will County, the largest of the dispatch centers is Joliet, which answers police and fire calls for city residents, and WESCOM which is located in Plainfield and handles calls for 19 communities, including Bolingbrook, Wilmington and Braidwood in Will County.

The other centers are in Romeoville, Crete, Frankfort (servicing the Lincoln-Way communities) and Will County, which handles only emergency calls in some unincorporated areas and does not dispatch firefighters.

While the general consensus seems to be that altering Joliet or WESCOM would not make sense, there’s no guarantee that won’t change as serious discussions get started this month and next, said Will County Undersheriff Bob Contro, who represents the sheriff’s office on the Will County Emergency Telephone System 9-1-1 Board and is working with county officials on plans for a new law enforcement campus.

One of the new dispatch centers could be part of the sheriff’s office building on the Laraway Road, construction of which is to start next year, but time is tight if a decision is going to dovetail with the design phase of the project, which is to start before year’s end, Contro said.

“All I can say right now is everything is on the table,” Contro said.

The General Assembly mandate for consolidation was signed by the governor this spring. Its goal is to reduce the number of dispatch centers in Illinois in order to reduce the time needed to trigger emergency service. Calls that must be transferred between centers before police or firefighters can be dispatched lose precious time during emergencies.

The long-range goal is to have a system that is consolidated statewide, Rauter said. The state plans to hire a consultant as the first step toward accomplishing that, although financially the concept is daunting given that Illinois cannot tap federal grant money because it has diverted 911 funds in order to balance the state budget shortfall, Rauter said.

It’s also not clear how much state grant money will be available to counties to accomplish consolidation given that Illinois must also fund new systems in nine counties where 911 service is not available at all, he said. That will be determined once the governor appoints a board to oversee consolidation planning for the state – something that’s expected before the end of the month – and those board members determine exactly what’s to be included in the plans counties must submit by July 2016.

If the Joliet and WESCOM systems are chosen to be two of the three dispatch centers for Will, the remaining portion of the county would be covered by just one center.

Ideally, that center would be part of the new law enforcement campus, said County Board member Denise Winfrey (D-Joliet), who is a member of the board’s capital improvements committee.

The county could also decide it will not be involved in dispatching at all, and cede what it currently does to a new center that could be built elsewhere, Rauter said.

Beyond that, there are myriad other factors to decide, including which communities will be served by the new center, whether Joliet and WESCOM will need to pick up additional towns, how much equipment will be needed for the new building, what needs to be added to the existing centers, and how much each community pays, Rauter said.

Typically, costs are based on the volume of calls a town receives, with smaller towns paying less than larger, he said. But should communities that need a new center pay more than WESCOM communities, which helped fund a new center just three years ago, he asked.

Previous posts about issues with the 911 system in Will County are HERE and HERE

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