Modern Communications Center For Fire, Other Town Departments
Photo by Bruce Cunningham-Werdnigg
A new communications center is one of the results of extensive renovations to the Guilford, Conn., town hall. The center, which is in the basement, gives the town one of the most modern and efficient communications setups of any small town in the area.
An 18 X 24-foot section of the basement has been finished off to provide room for a new switchboard, a radio equipment room, locker space for the operators, and toilet and cooking facilities.
A two-position telephone switchboard handles calls for all town departments, including fire and police emergency calls. One position at the board gives the operator access to fire, police and highway department radio frequencies, and an additional radio dispatch position permits a third person to handle all three radio frequencies during an emergency.
Three towns share frequency
A diesel-powered generator provides standby power in the event that commercial power fails. A 110-foot tripod mast in the rear yard of the building has antennas for all three frequencies and permits excellent coverage of the towns of Guilford and Madison.
Madison and Branford, located to the east and to the west of Guilford, are on the same fire frequency. The three towns help each other through mutual aid agreements. A remote on the fire frequency is located in the chiefs home.
All active firemen have tone-activated receivers in their homes or places of business, and the department officers and commissioners have twoway radios in their cars. Officers also have portable radios. The tone generator can set off an alarm for the downtown companies or the North Guilford company, or both. The North Guilford sirens can be set off from the switchboard. The tone generator also has the capacity, when sets are available, to alert one or both of the fire department’s emergency squads.
The Guilford and Madison tone generators can sound tones for each town, so that if a breakdown occurs in the equipment of one town, the dispatcher for the other town can bridge the gap.
Guilford has for the past several years had the 911 emergency telephone reporting system with three trunks for the downtown phone exchange, and two for the North Guilford exchange. A tape recorder, installed for the protection of the town and the operators, records everything said when the operator’s talk key is open, as well as all calls on the fire radio frequency. In addition, emergency reporting boxes have been installed at high hazard locations.
Private alarms received
Annunciator panels for two private fire and security alarm companies have been set up along one wall of the communications center. The center monitors fire and security alarms for all town buildings as well as numerous firms and private residences.
We realize that many municipalities do not wish to handle annunciator panels, but it our feeling that this system improves the response speed.
A staff of 10 operators and a supervisor man the center on a round-theclock basis. A communications committee was recently set up by the board of selectmen to work closely with the communication supervisor and operators. Meetings with police, fire and emergency squad personnel are held frequently so that all involved understand the problems and procedures of each group.
The committee has neither budget nor staff authority. It serves as liaison between the supervisor and board of selectmen, making recommendations in each direction. The committee is composed of representatives from the fire and police commissions and the board of finance and a retired plant supervisor of the Southern New England Telephone Company.