Vallejo Fire Association intervenes on dispatcher staffing levels – Times-Herald

Questions surrounding dispatcher staffing levels in Vallejo aren’t going away anytime soon.

A week after the Vallejo Police Department and its union, as well as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 1245, spoke out on the issue, the Vallejo Firefighters Association stepped in Friday with its own opinion.

In a press release, firefighter and Vallejo spokesperson Kevin Brown wrote that the association wanted to “express its concerns about the real impacts poor staffing and working conditions are having on local fires and response.” emergency medicine”.

“The Vallejo Fire Department prides itself on providing exceptional emergency response services to our local community and we understand that to provide this surface level, a fully staffed and fully functional dispatch center is a necessity,” said Brown said in the press release. “Unfortunately, the Vallejo Expedition has experienced a decline in manpower and working conditions over the past few years.

“There is no denying that Vallejo is a high-volume 9-1-1 system, consistently among the busiest per capita in our area,” Brown continued in the statement. “That said, our dispatch center is often staffed with only two emergency dispatchers while managing a workload two to three times greater. Our dispatchers are forced to push themselves beyond a reasonable limit, juggling police, fire and emergency medical dispatch duties in addition to responding to 911 calls. These staffing shortages create costly delays in life-threatening circumstances. »

Brown went on to say that staffing levels force all fire and medical traffic to be carried on one channel, creating confusion and additional safety concerns.

Brown urged the city of Vallejo to address the root causes that led to the staffing issues.

“While the Vallejo Police Department may not have been involved in any plans or discussions to ‘downsize’ its emergency dispatch center, Vallejo emergency responders certainly recognize the reality that our center allocation is hanging by a thread,” Brown said in the press release.

The Vallejo Firefighters Association expressed gratitude to the “extremely hardworking dispatchers” as they “continue to provide the highest level of service possible.”

The Vallejo Firefighers Assocation’s response came a week after the VPD denied a claim by the VPOA about the lack of dispatch stations in the city. The statement called previous VPOA news “misinformation” and went on to claim that news reported by KRON 4 earlier in the week was also inaccurate – with attribution in its story citing the VPD and not the VPOA, which is a separate entity.

“Furthermore, the VPOA press release was filled with falsehoods,” said the VPD press release from last week. “He suggested that VPD would shut down nighttime emergency dispatch operations. This statement could not be further from the truth. No staffing decisions were made by Chief (Shawny) Williams or City Manager (Mike Malone). Maintaining staffing levels for the City of Vallejo’s emergency dispatch is an ongoing challenge, as it is in many other areas of the city’s operations. Currently, the city has a vacancy rate of approximately 30% citywide among all positions. »

“This has an impact on all employers, both municipal and private,” the VPD continued. “In response, the City of Vallejo has undertaken a comprehensive compensation review for its dispatcher positions to determine a strategy to increase competitiveness and retention. We need qualified people who are passionate about service and our community to join VPD. The city of Vallejo worked on strategies that would attract strong candidates to join our efforts. »

The VPD said there will be no disruption or disruption to public safety services and that scheduling adjustments have been made to ensure a dispatch center is staffed 24/7. seven.

A statement from the VPOA earlier in the week claimed otherwise, saying it handled 400-500 calls a day and only regularly worked with two people, “not allowing breaks or even simple trips to the bathroom. While five dispatchers per shift provide the most efficient amount of resources for safe and efficient operation. »

“This critical staffing crisis, which is significantly affecting both Vallejo Police and Fire Services, has caused the department to be in a staffed dispatcher of not being able to provide emergency services. 24-hour emergency 911 to the community,” the VPOA press release said. “It is believed that the Vallejo Police Department administration is currently considering a plan to drop 911 calls as well as police and fire dispatch services to another entity overnight.”

However, in a statement by IBEW 1245 on Wednesday, the organization says it began engaging with the City of Vallejo in early 2021 regarding the downsizing among Vallejo Police Department communications dispatchers and other classifications.

The IBEW says that in February, staffing was at critically low levels as skilled workers left Vallejo for other agencies. New hires and interns, under the continued stress of one of the busiest communications centers in the Bay Area per capita, were leaving at the fastest pace he hadn’t seen since he began represent these workers.

“The result is that, more often than not, the communications department has only two operators working per shift,” IBEW said in its press release. “At this critical time, we alerted the municipal administration that Local 1245 is extremely concerned about the health and safety of its communications members. An understaffed communications center, responding to a high volume of 911 emergency calls from fire and police, while simultaneously handling extremely complex radio traffic with field officers who rely on our members, puts all parties at risk. Under these circumstances, our communication operators are unduly exposed to serious mental and physical health problems.

Andrew B. Reiter