AFD Communications Center
The Anchorage Fire Department’s Communication Center is the central point of contact for EMS and Fire activity in the Municipality of Anchorage. The center is staffed with highly trained professional public safety communicators who are nationally accredited in Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) and Emergency Fire Dispatch (EFD), as well as being CPR certified. They assist citizens calling 911 or the non-emergency number by gathering information, providing pre-arrival instructions and basic life-saving assistance as necessary. A computer-aided dispatch system and Windows-based telephone system combine to allow communicators to gather and then disseminate information quickly when handling emergency calls.
Communicators use a state of the art Motorola radio system to dispatch Fire Department personnel based on proximity to the emergency and capabilities of the units. Routine radio communications are handled on the main alarm channel, with 5 additional TAC channels available for more extensive operations, as well as separate channels for the Chugiak and Girdwood Volunteer fire departments. The AFD Communications Center handles calls for a population of nearly 300,000 people and an area covering 1,956 square miles, from the Knik River Bridge to Mile 75 of the Seward Highway. It also coordinates private ambulance dispatching and after hour calls for service to the Municipal Facility Maintenance Department, Street Maintenance and Fire Prevention. Anchorage Fire Department Communicators work closely with other agencies including the Anchorage Police Department, Alaska State Troopers, JBER, UAA Police and Airport Public Safety.
Dispatching as a Career
A career in Public Safety communications can be as rewarding as it is demanding. Successful candidates for the position will be quick-thinkers with the ability to multi-task and remain calm in high pressure situations. All communicators with the Anchorage Fire Department take part in an intensive training program that involves classroom, text book and on-the-job training, generally lasting 4-12 months, depending on previous experience. Communicators will become members of the International Association of Firefighters Union Local 1264. When positions are available, job postings are listed on the Municipality’s website at www.muni.org/jol .