Housewife Proves Efficient Dispatcher
Except for a bed and a bureau, the bedroom of Mrs. Olive Jorgensen of (625 E. 175th St.) Seattle, Washington, looks more like a combination firehouse and communication center than it does a home.
Three telephones hang on a wall beneath a shelf stacked with radio transmitters, above a desk covered with more equipment, a dozen pencils and a log book.
A pair of firemen’s boots, their tops hidden in the legs of firemen’s heavy duck trousers, stand nearby, ready to be donned with a jump and a tug—beside a coat and helmet. These belong to Mrs. Jorgensen’s husband, James, a volunteer fireman in King County Fire District No. 4.
Mrs. Jorgensen uses the rest of the equipment. She is the fire dispatcher for the district, covering 12 square miles. When any of about 25,000 residents in the district have fire trouble, get locked out, need first aid quickly or have anything from a broken water pipe to a flooding furnace, Mrs. Jorgensen is usually the first to hear about it.
As dispatcher, Mrs. Jorgensen calls the signals for three fire stations, dispatching the amount of equipment she deems necessary, alerting other stations through the radio “intercom” equipment. At the push of a button on her desk, she can remotely turn on radio loudspeakers in the homes of the fire chief and four assistant chiefs. She also can use the Motorola “Quik-Call” to sound the sirens at four remote fire houses, which in turn call out the volunteer firemen.
Recently there has been added still another button which radio controls the traffic signal on a major arterial road, giving fire trucks priority to cross.
If more help is needed, Mrs. Jorgensen can summon the neighboring Snohomish Fire Department, whose radio channel she monitors constantly. In addition to her own District No. 4, she serves as dispa_____cner for the 11 mobile units in neighboring Districts No. 14 and 16 which do not have base station radios.
“You’d think no woman in her right mind with a family the size of mine would take a job like this,” Mrs. Jorgensen says, “but I like it. It’s interesting. It’s fun, but it’s inconvenient, too.
“Can’t go across the street for coffee. I’m married to those telephones and except for 20 hours relief (by substitute radio operator), I’m stuck here. Can’t run my mixer in the kitchen very long because I might not hear the telephone. Have to keep shutting it off and on. I’ve worn out three mixers in five years.”