The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to explore a possible consolidation of the region’s five public safety dispatch centers.
County and city of San Diego officials have long considered merging the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, North County Dispatch, Heartland Communications, Escondido and Cal Fire/County Fire dispatch centers. North County Dispatch and Heartland, in particular, are both “bursting at the seams and actively planning for replacement facilities,” according to a county report.
“Consolidating our five dispatch centers in the region has been talked about for a long time,” Supervisors Dianne Jacob said. “The time though is now to move forward.”
The board voted to direct the county chief administrative officer to begin planning for a consolidated center comprised of the five dispatch groups. A merger may “bring cost savings and operational efficiencies” while offering “more robust” services, according to the county.
San Diego city officials decided in March to explore merging fire and medical dispatch centers based on the recommendation of an independent study presented to the City Council’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee.
The study, competed by Citygate Associates, cited space inadequacies at the city’s 11,563-square-foot Kearny Mesa center. The study also said the city will need to find or build a new dispatch center by 2020, even if it doesn’t merge operations.
The elected bodies in charge of the five dispatch centers will eventually vote on a proposal once staff and consultants iron out a concrete proposal, according to a Citygate consultant. City officials said that is expected to occur by the end of the year.
—City News Service
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