AFD Communications Center
The Anchorage Fire Department Communications Center handles all 911 fire, rescue and emergency medical calls and radio communications within the Municipality of Anchorage. The center is staffed with twenty highly trained professional public safety communicators who work twelve-hour shifts. Minimum staffing is three communicators on duty at all times. All AFD communicators are trained and certified in Criteria Based Dispatching (CBD) for EMS calls, certified by the State of Alaska as Emergency Medical Dispatchers (EMD) and trained and certified in Emergency Fire Dispatch (EFD). All communicators must also be CPR trained and some are certified as Emergency Medical Technicians.
The center dispatches for the Anchorage Fire Department, Chugiak Volunteer Fire Department, Girdwood Fire Department, Anchorage Safety Patrol, and LifeMed Alaska Ground Ambulance Service. The center serves a population of nearly 300,000 people and a service area covering 1,956 square miles, from the Knik River Bridge on the Glenn Highway to the north and to Mile 75 of the Seward Highway to the south. In 2015, the communicators processed 195,471 incoming emergent and non-emergent phone calls generating 84,809 incident reports. The AFD communicators 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 utilizing a state-of-the-art Motorola radio system to dispatch personnel based on proximity to the emergency and capabilities of the units.
AFD public safety communicators work closely with other public safety agencies including the Anchorage Police Department, Alaska State Troopers, Whittier Police Department, JBER Fire Department and Security Forces, UAA Police Department, Alaska Division of Forestry and the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport Police and Fire Department. The center also handles calls for service to the Municipal Facility Maintenance Department, Street Maintenance and AFD’s Fire Prevention section.
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 .