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County breaks ground on new dispatch call center

A new emergency call center being built in Hilo will improve communications between the county’s police and fire departments.

The center, which began construction Wednesday, eventually will house both fire and police dispatch systems and a fire administration support complex at 540 Kupuna Place, directly next to the Mohouli Senior Housing Project.

The project will cost $25.4 million from the county’s capital improvement budget and is estimated to be completed in early 2023.

“We are honored to push forward a project that will not only greatly benefit the community but also pay respect to the incredible and invaluable work that the men and women in our dispatch centers do day-in and day-out,” said Mayor Mitch Roth at the groundbreaking Wednesday. “This project is long overdue, and we are proud to join the multiple administrations, council members and community members who have fought diligently to conceptualize this project and get it going.”

Hilo Councilman Aaron Chung said Thursday that some form of the project has been discussed by County Council members since the early 2000s.

During a March meeting of the Windward Planning Commission, Robert Perreira, then the acting fire chief, explained that the new facility is sorely needed to modernize the county’s emergency dispatch offices.

“Currently, our fire dispatch center consists of a room … with four consoles and no room for growth,” Perreira said during the March meeting. “This new dispatch center will add nine consoles and room for growth for our department and our community response.”

At that same meeting, police Maj. Andrew Burian explained that the Hawaii Police Department’s dispatch facilities have not been upgraded in decades.

“Right now, we run two separate centers in two separate locations, and both of these facilities are antiquated and we’ve outgrown these facilities,” Burian said at the March meeting.

“When I first started as a police officer 30 years ago, we were in the same facility, but at that point we had normally one to two dispatchers working at any one time, and right now, in the same facility, with the same space, we have normally seven dispatchers with one supervisor,” he said. “So, you can see on the police side we are really stretching our capabilities being in there.”

When the joint dispatch center is completed, Burian said the existing dispatch facilities will be repurposed as backup facilities.

Email Michael Brestovansky at
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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