September 24, 2013 at 4:00 AM
MILLBURN, NJ - The township’s fire department plans to use the services of a new emergency dispatch center being built in New Providence.
The new center is a joint undertaking between New Providence and Summit. For the past 28 years, Millburn has contracted with Summit for its fire dispatch.
“The towns are saving money by combining their services,” said Fire Chief Michael Roberts. He indicated that fewer personnel will be needed to run a more efficient operation.
The center, which will cost nearly $1.5 million to build and feature state-of-the-art technology, is scheduled to open next year and will be housed in New Providence’s Municipal Center.
As part of the agreement, the Township Committee voted last month to replace Berkeley Heights and participate in a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the amount of $621,000. The funds will be used towards the purchase of a dispatch console, computer-aided dispatch and records management software, and mobile data terminals, according to the Summit fire chief.
The grant requires the three local communities to put up 10 percent of the total, or $62,100. Millburn agreed to kick in its share of $20,700.
The joint dispatch center will handle emergency calls for police, fire and emergency medical services for both Summit and New Providence. When a call comes in, it will be tracked and recorded on computer software. The information can then be sent to mobile data terminals located in emergency vehicles.
Township Administrator Timothy Gordon said township officials have not yet determined if they will use the center for their police and EMS dispatch.
“It will be economical, but we want to be sure it’s effective,” he said, indicating that issues such as backup in case of power outages must be resolved.
The township currently pays Summit a fee of $165,000 for fire dispatch, according to Gordon.