Study will focus on fire dispatch operations in Okanagan Similkameen

Regional district awards contract for emergency radio telecommunications study

It’s going to cost $50,000 to have a consultant study the regional fire dispatch and paging system to ensure it’s up to snuff and make recommendations on its future.

The board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen voted Thursday to award the $48,919 contract for an emergency radio telecommunications study to Planetworks Consulting.

According to a staff report, the study will check if the system complies with current standards, address issues of contention between paging and voice, and look at ways to reduce reliance on dial-up connections as primary radio links.

The RDOS does not have money set aside for any upgrades the study might suggest, although it’s expected a range of options and timelines will be included.

The study is one of nine recommendations contained in a 2010 review of the 911 dispatch service that North Vancouver-based Planetworks prepared for the RDOS.

That 2010 study also recommended the RDOS pull out of an arrangement it had then with the Penticton Fire Department to provide dispatch service. The RDOS did, and moved its business to Kelowna, as did the City of Penticton. After the transition in January, several fire departments in the South Okanagan complained of garbled, incoherent communications with dispatch, but transmission quality seemed to improve with time.

RDOS board chair Dan Ashton pointed out at Thursday’s meeting that the new study would have been required even if the local dispatch centre had not been closed.