BARSTOW The Barstow Fire Protection District is considering consolidating dispatch efforts with the Barstow Police Department in a move that Fire District officials say will shorten response times to fires and medical emergencies.

The BFPD was dispatched out of the Desert Communication Center in Victorville until July 2009 when Victorville contracted with San Bernardino County Fire Department for fire protection services. The move left Barstow without a local dispatch center, and BFPD calls were moved to the Confire Communications Center in Rialto.

BFPD Chief Darrell Jauss said the move would eliminate a step in the dispatch process for some calls and provide the district with dispatchers more familiar with the Barstow area.

"Now all (fire and paramedic) 911 calls from people in our area go to the police or the sheriff and then get transferred to Rialto," said Jauss. "There would be a shorter response time if dispatch goes to the Police Department. It takes time to transfer (calls)."

Jauss said he doesn't know how much money it would cost the city to take over BFPD dispatch duties, but estimated two or three additional dispatchers would need to be hired. Currently BFPD pays Confire Joint Power Authority $116,000 for dispatch services and $10,000 in equipment fees.

"Information on the cost will have to be allocated," said Jauss. "We're looking at some partnership data."

Jauss said Confire dispatch has occasionally sent BFPD to calls outside of their coverage area, but he could not think of a recent dispatching error with severe consequences.

Barstow Police Chief Dianne Burns said additional dispatchers at the Police Department would always be a good thing but doesn't yet know if combining dispatch efforts with the BFPD would work. Burns said the Police Department was still looking at data to see if the move would be feasible.

"It may work, we're not sure, we have to look at things call volume and see if it makes sense," said Burns.

Jauss said a resolution on moving fire dispatch to the police department may appear before the City Council and BFPD board within the next month or two.

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