Go Ahead…Make My Day


By Billy Goldfeder

The below article identifies a recent but also on going problem with a CAD vendor In Washington State. When you read the article, these very predictable problems with their system are nothing new and the frustrations by the fire and law enforcement folks is obvious…

And then the other day…

A 2nd alarm was transmitted for a working fire and nothing happened.

Nothing Happened.

Nothing Happened…for 23 minutes. 

(Cricket chirps)

Big deal? No…not as long as it’s not your fire…your firefighters.,..your property…your life. 

Am I being too dramatic?

Shut up.

This is serious stuff and it gets so tiring to hear stuff like “well the system is effective 95% of the time. 

Shut up again.

So many communities are forced to “get on board” with a new CAD system that “does so much” including delaying dispatch assignments. The “does so much” may be nice such as records management, stats and all that nice to have stuff-but if it doesn’t work when most needed-dispatching apparatus and staffing quicker than the “old” system or a dispatcher driven manual operation-then it’s like a fancy new car with the latest conveniences and features …but fails when you put it in gear to actually drive somewhere. Nice car. 

Not only is it critical for the CAD system to match the fire dispatch operation (vs recently like a local county in the SW Ohio area-they just got a new so called CAD system that forces their many fire departments to adjust their operations to match the damn CAD system-WTF!?) …but it is also essential that the DISPATCHERS (and the fire departments served) be an active part of the system specifications, review, purchase and approval.

Another point that can’t be forgotten. Rarely however, even the best systems will fail (hopefully not like the below system) for whatever reason…and it is essential that there be an INSTANT backup plan. 

Whats your dispatch backup?

What happens when CAD goes down?

What happens when the station alerting fails?
What happens when the power goes out?
What happens when the 9-1-1 phones go down?

What happens when some psycho blows up any aspect of your dispatch system?

Not only does NFPA. ISO and CPSE all state the critical need for reliable BACKUP… along with the regular training of the dispatchers and the testing of the systems…but forget all that for a second—-lets use our old reliable template that NEVER fails:


How do you want the 911 and dispatch system-the entire system (and its backup) to work, when it is your kid, grandchild, spouse, partner or loved one …or your firefighters who need that system to function immediately-during their worst day?

Do you feel lucky?

Well…do you punk?

A reliable dispatch center and system with reliable and professionally trained and lead dispatchers is not cheap-but it’s part of the cost of doing business and well worth the investment….but “hoping” for the best when there is so much history of failure is the stuff my partner Gordon Graham has preached about for decades…

If it’s predictable…it’s preventable. There is no need for predictable risks such as outlined in the below article. 

HERE is the article and “warning” to us all:  http://www.heraldnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?aid=/20160614/NEWS01/160619600/Software-delayed-2nd-fire-responders-to-Everett-blaze

When we ignore predictable risks…those “problems lying in wait”…the outcome will rarely end positively…someone will have THAT bad day. 

This incident in Washington allows them-and the rest of us to make sure that your system will work.,..and when it fails…the backup will work…always. Everyday. 

Go Ahead…Make My Day….


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Get To Know Your Neighbors…The Ones Who Died Last Week

BILLY GOLDFEDER, EFO, Billy Goldfederis deputy chief of the Loveland-Symmes (OH) Fire Department. He has been a firefighter since 1973, a company officer since 1979, and a chief officer since 1982. He serves on the International Association of Fire Chiefs board of directors, the September 11th Families Association, and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. He has taught at FDIC for 30-plus years and is a member of the Fire Engineering editorial advisory board and the FDIC executive advisory board. He writes the “Nozzlehead” column for FireRescue magazine and is in charge of www.firefighterclosecalls.com.

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