South Sound 911 to build voter-approved public safety communications center
When the citizens of Pierce County voted in support of public safety in November 2011, an interlocal agency called South Sound 911 was formed to provide efficiencies in public safety. The vote authorized a 0.1 percent sales tax increase to fund both the consolidation of six disparate 911 centers and create a reliable, regional emergency communications radio network. To accommodate this integration, a new public safety communications center will be constructed over the next two years.
In the coming weeks, South Sound 911 will be evaluating a “preferred” building site at 2119 Mildred St. W. in Fircrest and will be hosting a series of public meetings in each of the County Council districts, where South Sound 911 Executive Director Andrew Neiditz will speak about the project. The 4th District meetings are being held Wednesday, May 13th, at 6 p.m. in Fircrest City Hall (115 Ramsdell St. in Fircrest) and the second will be Tuesday, May 26th, at 6:30 p.m. in the STAR Center's Voyage Studio (3873 S. 66th St. in Tacoma). You can click here to see the full list of meeting dates and locations.
The new public safety communications center is more than a building. A planning study completed in 2013 helped determine that collocated police and fire communications on a single site would provide the most efficiencies, both in operations and cost. This “hybrid campus” will house both police and fire communications responders who will use the same 911 phone system and the same dispatch system – meaning improved communications, seamless interoperability, and information-sharing – all in an effort to quickly get police, fire or medical aid where it’s needed.
The 911 centers that merged (or are in the process) to form South Sound 911 include:
- Law Enforcement Support Agency
- Fife Communications
- Buckley Communications
- West Pierce Fire & Rescue Fire Communications
- Tacoma Fire Communications
- Puyallup City Communications
The 911 centers and the agencies they represented operated independently – so much so that when responding to the same emergency, law enforcement, fire and medical responders could not communicate by radio without “patching” the systems together. Thanks to the community’s support, South Sound 911 is providing efficiencies in public safety from the call to the response.
South Sound 911's executive director reports to two governing boards: The Policy Board and the Operations Board. The Policy Board is comprised of 10 elected officials which collectively provide legislative and policy direction for the agency. The 13-member Operations Board is comprised of partner agency police and fire chiefs who provide operational oversight and direction. Both boards meet monthly and public comment is allowed at the beginning of each meeting.
For more information about South Sound 911, please visit their website, or for information specific to the new public safety communications center, please visit the project page.