Washington County Fire and

Rescue Communications



As their past PSAP  (Public Safety Answering Point) for Washington County,  Washington Country Fire and Rescue answered ALL Calls for help through  9-1-1.  Fire and Rescue Communications process and dispatched ALL requests for EMS Service and Fire Company responses.  The Team dispatched for the Hagerstown Fire Department,  EMS,  and Fire companies throughout Washington County for any "Emergency,"  no matter how small.    Emergency Management  and the LEPC  while separate,  also Functioned from within this office.

The site has been closed down and we offer this one for past informational purposes only about the Washington County Fire and Rescue Communications, They do however have a new site. If you would like to visit their new site please go to http://www.washco-md.net/EmergencyServices/index.shtm

9-1-1 / Communications Past Mission Statements

The mission of Fire and Rescue Communications was to receive ALL  9-1-1 calls and other emergency  calls for help,  transfer emergency  police calls to the proper agencies,  dispatched appropriate EMS &/or Fire apparatus with the least possible delay,  once a request was received or a requirement was known to exist.   The nearest available equipment was always dispatched to the scene of any emergency or incident;  ("Nearest to be defined by the criteria as set fourth by the Board of Washington County Commissioners and the Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association")

    Emergency Communications as it was,  in Washington County:

    Washington County came a long way with Emergency Communications from where it was before August,  1975. While changes were hard to accept, Fire and Rescue was a state of the art Emergency Communications Center with modern equipment,  including Enhanced 9-1-1,  Computer Aided Dispatch   ( Keystone Information Systems ),  Emergency Medical Dispatch ( National Academy of Emergency Medical Dispatch),  "Proqa" / "Aqua" software ( Medical Priority Consultants ),  Trained Emergency Communications Specialist (State of MD certified),  and participated in continuing education to comply with Maryland State Standards and National Standards.  Radio equipment was fully funded by the county, through their budgeting process,  for upgrades and repairs to all emergency service companies.

    History Time Line:

  • Start to 1974:  Communications was handled by each rural area calling various numbers to those departments with request for assistance.  Each company handled their own calls, radio, etc.   Phones were installed in various homes, businesses, and even on the outside of a residence so that an Emergency call could be answered and the Station Sirens activated when needed. 
    In Hagerstown, there was a small communications console set up at Engine 1, First Hose Fire Company which was located on S. Potomac St.   The Hagerstown Fire Department ran their own dispatch by using either a 7 digit emergency phone number or by the Gamewell Pull box stations located on various Streets and street corners, and by some sprinklered buildings that would activate the pull boxes when tripped.  This then registered at all stations by use of a Gong and Punch Tape that tapped out a round of numbers.  The dispatcher would then look up the number and match it to a paper run card, and then activate an alert tone that was and still is unique to the City, and dispatch the units to that location. 
    County companies when on a "Working" incident would then usually call the dispatch in Hagerstown and advise them what they were doing,  use them as a contact for other resources,  as well as their own stations.
  • 1974:  Plans are finalized for a County Fire and Rescue Dispatch system.  One seven digit phone number to access a "Central" facility, manned by paid county dispatchers for fire and ems calls.  Location will be in the basement of the County Office building, located at 33 W. Washington St. in Hagerstown.
  • 1975:   Aug. 24 @ 0200 hrs,  Cut over is Made to the NEW "Central Alarm" communications center. All fire and Ems dispatch from the same location for Hagerstown and county residents and companies.
  • 1984:  Five additional Specialist are hired for the new State mandated 9-1-1 phone system,  which was installed and switched over in May.
  • 1986:  To be able to switch to the state mandate of all counties having Enhanced 9-1-1, the county implements a Grid numbering system so that all rural route addresses will become actual Street Addresses.  This is a major undertaking, the house numbering was in the unincorporated towns and all of the county.  Some resistance from the public was voiced, but overall the renumbering went well.
  • 1991:  Specs developed and bids awarded for our first full CAD Dispatch/Records System.
  • 1992:  Cad system is installed and the rigorous task of data entry and training begins. 
  • 1992:  EMD, Emergency Medical Dispatch program from the "National Academy of EMD" and "Medical Priority Consultants" is in place,  all Specialist are trained in Pre Arrival Instruction
  • 1993:  After many months of entering data, training, and testing all areas of the CAD system,  the switch is turned to running LIVE with CAD
  • 1994:  Enhanced 9-1-1 is in place and operational.  Proqa Software installed and operational in CAD
  • 1995:  CAD Administrator in place, responsible for the System, liaison with companies and Sheriff's dept. CAD,  and all data entry, run cards, training, cad upgrades, etc., web sites
  • 1998:  EMD Administrator in place, responsible for Quality Assurance, training, recertifing, etc. of all Specialist.  Liaison with the EMS community, Trauma center, and the public for understanding the EMD program.
  • 1999:  Beginning Plans and information as to how to handle the Phase I and Phase II technology for Cell Phone locations.  **This will allow for the display of the cell phone number to 9-1-1 and then display a location within a small radius of the caller. 
  • 2000:  August 24th,   Washington Counties 25th year of a "Central Alarm" communications center.  Now called "Washington County Fire and Rescue Communications".
  • 2001:  CAD Upgrades to do Alpha Paging for companies and officers; New Director of Emergency Services appointed, Mr. Joe Kroboth.
  • 2002:  New Chief of Communications appointed, Chief Bardona Woods.  Replacing Chief Ronald Karn, who retired in summer of 2001. Latest version of Windows ProQA EMD is in place and functional.
  • 2003:  Beginning phase of the new updated radio and communications system has been presented and adopted. Price tag could total up to $18 million. Phase I Wireless request have gone out to those cellular companies who provide wireless phone service to our area.

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