Oshawa Fire handling all fire dispatch for Durham after Pickering signs off on new partnership


Published April 30, 2024 at 10:07 am

The City of Pickering signed off on outsourcing the dispatching of fire calls to Oshawa Fire last week, a process that began a year ago when Ajax (which had been handling fire dispatch for Pickering) teamed up with Oshawa (which had been providing the service for Whitby, Clarington and Durham’s three northern communities) to handle all fire dispatch services for Durham Region at one command centre located at Oshawa Fire Headquarters.

The streamlined system had its origins in 2022 when the CRTC mandated new standards for dispatch computer systems, forcing Oshawa to commit $2.245 million in the 2023 budget for a new system, which is far bigger than the City required.

That prompted the Town of Ajax to contact Oshawa to see if the two municipalities could work something out.

“Ajax reached out to us about sharing services and because we had the space, our staff thought it was a good idea,” Safety and Facilities Committee Chair Brian Nicholson said last year.

With operating costs split between the municipalities (with the three mostly rural townships counting as one for cost purposes), the new partnership could save Oshawa as much as 28 per cent, with costs being split six ways instead of four.

And because the Town of Ajax would no longer have to shell out for the new dispatch system, it would save the money on that end as well. “It’s a win-win proposition for everyone,” Nicholson noted at the time. “It’s a good deal.”

The new NG 9-1-1 system will enable new methods of communication such as text, photos and video, providing greater “situational awareness and enable efficient sharing of information to deliver the right resources to the right location, in the fastest way possible to people in need of emergency response,” Oshawa staff explained in a report.

Residents will be able to stream videos from an emergency incident, send photos of accidents, a fleeing suspect, or send personal medical information, including accessibility needs, which will aid in reducing response time for emergency personnel.

The potential consolidation would provide a coordinated fire dispatch response which would also allow better co-ordination for major incidents and improve co-ordination of firefighting in border areas, the report stated.

It could also lead to greater efficiencies, cost reductions and improvements in public safety, as well as enhanced collaboration and communication between all of the Region of Durham’s municipal fire services and other emergency services.

Over the last several years many municipalities have undertaken the process of consolidating their respective fire dispatch centres into one centre to achieve resource and cost efficiencies, including the Region of Waterloo, which amalgamated their emergency dispatch services in 2019.


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