The largest city in western Massachusetts has finished a project to improve its response to emergencies.
A new consolidated centralized 911 dispatch center has become operational for the Springfield Police and Fire Departments.
The opening of the facility, which has the latest emergency communications equipment, is a great step for the city of Springfield, said Fire Commissioner Bernard Calvi.
"This is going to be a great boon for public safety in the city of Springfield by decreasing call-handling times which will decrease our response times for both the police and fire departments,' said Calvi.
"It will increase police officer safety and firefighter safety because there will be a better transition of information between the two departments," he said.
Previously, the police and fire departments had separate dispatch centers. 911 calls were answered at the police headquarters. If a fire was being reported, the caller was transferred to the fire department’s dispatch center.
The consolidated communications center is located at the former Fire Department dispatch building on Roosevelt Avenue.
Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood said having the police and fire dispatchers in the same room will lessen the risk of a communications breakdown between the two public safety agencies.
"We have different radios and we're operating on different channels out there, so to have one dispatch center that can put us all together in a manner of seconds is very welcome," said Clapprood.
Work to build the new communications center started last June and was finished on time and on budget, according to Calvi.
The Springfield City Council authorized $900,000 for the project. After touring the new dispatch center, City Councilor Malo Brown said it was “money well spent.”
No jobs were lost as a result of the consolidation. The dispatch center has 45 employees.
Mayor Domenic Sarno called the dispatchers “unsung heroes.”
"Under stressful times, they calm people down and get the pertinent information so that our police and fire can respond and AMR can respond with medical assistance," said Sarno.
The former dispatch center at the police headquarters on Pearl Street will be kept as a backup.