Early this month, radio technicians representing all the agencies met for the first time to discuss consolidation. The purpose of the meeting was to introduce everyone who will be involved with the project, make sure that everyone is familiar with the project, and identify any immediate concerns.
The group reviewed the three proposed dispatch boundary options and after some discussion, it was determined that, from their perspective, any of the options being considered would work. None of the options have any significant advantage or disadvantage over the others. The same held true for the location of the third dispatch center. Both Richfield and Price would serve equally as well as a location for a dispatch center. The main requirements are adequate internet connectivity and the ability to access the microwave system. Little, if any, new infrastructure, such as towers and repeaters will be required to switch to the three center system. With the technology currently available, it will be more of an exercise in reprogramming existing systems than building new ones.
The new technology will also make it easier to build continuity of operations into the new system. The new system will have redundancy built in so in the event of a catastrophic failure at one of the centers, one or both of the remaining centers can pick up the workload until the failed center can come back online. Some of the Park Service offices have this capability already.
Since dispatchers need the capability to access both USFS and DOI systems, there was discussion about integrating them. Currently, this requires having both systems hard-wired at each workstation. Integration, if possible, would allow access to both systems from a single data port.
As a result of discussions held on a November 30 conference call, the Executive Board directed the Oversite Committee to work together to determine a preferred boundary option for the three dispatch center model. On December 8, the Oversight Committee met and reviewed each of the three proposed boundary options. The group made adjustments to each of the boundary options and discussed possible solutions that would make each of the options work for all agencies. The overall objective of the exercise was still to balance the workload and minimize splitting administrative boundaries between centers. The nature of the various agency boundaries makes it difficult to establish dispatch boundaries without splitting at least one agency’s boundaries. After much discussion, the group reached a compromise with option two. This recommendation will be presented to the Executive Board in March. New maps are being produced and will be distributed soon.
The analysis of the boundary options using FireOrg is proceeding as planned. The data for the analysis is being collected and processed. Because existing dispatch boundaries are being divided and the data we are collecting is tied to those boundaries, this analysis will only evaluate data that can be referenced spatially, for example fire occurrence data. Once the data has been collected and assigned a spatial identifier the proposed boundaries can be overlaid and the workload attributed to the new polygons. It is recognized that this analysis will not look at every element that contributes to the workload of a dispatch center. However, it will provide a consistent method to assign workload to each of the boundary options and allow the relative comparison of each one. The actual FireOrg runs should take place mid-January.
At the request of the Executive Board additional information was collected regarding the Price option, specifically, the types of funding available and the terms and conditions associated with repayment. After discussions with Carbon County officials, a cost analysis is being prepared to present to the Executive Board in March. The analysis will compare the cost of building a facility at both of the sites as well as possible safety and technical issues. This information along with the final boundary selection will assist in the selection of the third dispatch center location.
The next steps are primarily preparation for the March meeting with the Executive Board which has been sched-uled for March 15.
Cost analysis of the proposed Richfield and Price sites for the construction of the third dispatch center.
FireOrg runs to determine workload and staffing lev-els of the proposed boundary options
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