CITY OF EL PASO OPERATIONAL HOURS:
Mon-Thurs, 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. - Closed Fridays
Communications Division
The El Paso Fire Department has consolidated its Communications Division with the El Paso Police Department. The El Paso Police Department manages the call taking, dispatching and radio monitoring for the El Paso Fire Department. The El Paso Fire Department retains responsibility for radio equipment.

Introduction to the Enhanced 911 System

The El Paso County Enhanced 911 System is a cooperative effort of the El Paso County 911 District, City of El Paso, and County of El Paso. The 911 Center is located at the Emergency Communication Center at 200 N. Kansas, in Downtown El Paso. The 911 Call-Takers, El Paso Fire Department Call-Takers/Dispatchers, and El Paso Police Department Dispatchers are located in this facility. The El Paso County Sheriff's Office currently maintains their communications facility at the Jail Annex on Montana Street.

The El Paso County 911 District provides the 911 Center telephone switching equipment, software, Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) hardware, and assists in funding other associated projects. The City of El Paso and the County of El Paso provide the staffing for the 911 Center and all radio equipment and some software.

The purpose of the El Paso Fire Department Communications Division is to receive emergency calls, determine the appropriate response of emergency resources, dispatch resources, and provide updated information to the responding resources.

How the Basic E911 System Works

As soon as you dial 9-1-1, a computer at the 911 Center detects your phone number and the location of that phone. A 911 Call-taker will answer the call, by standard, in less than 30 seconds and state "911, what is your emergency?" They will ask for your address and phone number to confirm and in case there is an interruption in the call. If your emergency is of a law enforcement nature in the City of El Paso, the 911 Call-taker will take your information and build a Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) computer card for the event. A separate Police Department Dispatcher views the CAD card and will determine the appropriate response to the incident. If the call is for law enforcement for the County of El Paso, the call will be transferred to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.

If the call is for a Fire or Medical Emergency in the City or County your call is transferred to the El Paso Fire Department. The EPFD Call-Taker will ask the nature of your emergency, reconfirm the address and phone number, and determine the type and priority of your call. But, don't hang up yet!!! A Fire Department Dispatcher has been watching the building of the CAD card and as soon as the type and priority is determined, they determine the appropriate resources and dispatch them. The Call-Taker will still ask many questions, but don't worry; the response units and personnel are already on their way. The remaining questions are asked in order to provide more detailed information to the responding personnel, so that they can be thinking of what to look for and how to deal with your particular emergency. The Call-Taker will also provide "Pre-Arrival Instructions". For a fire, this might include getting out of the building, flagging down the responding units, and dealing with other occupants. If it is a medical emergency, pre-arrival instructions might include CPR instructions, unlocking the door for the responders, or how to control bleeding. These instructions are based on a nationally recognized source that has been approved by the El Paso Fire Department Medical Director.

As stated, when the Fire Department Call-taker is asking all those questions, a Fire Dispatcher is busy getting you the help you need. When the address has been verified and the call prioritized by the Fire Call-taker, the Dispatcher uses the CAD computer to recommend the closest unit(s) according to the AVL system, for that call type. They immediately tone out over a radio frequency to the Fire Stations and the units that are available by radio in the field. The Dispatch is given and repeated by giving the Fire Unit numbers, address, call type, and radio channel the incident is assigned to. When the units respond on the assigned radio channel, a separate Dispatcher monitors the reports and documents all communications regarding the incident.


Communications Equipment

1) Radios

The El Paso Fire Department utilizes mobile and portable radios in the 800 MHz range. We are currently in the process upgrading our radio system to provide compliance with APCO Project 25 recommendations of moving from an Analog to a Digital system. This will provide us with better quality communications and greater security of the system. In the future we are working on increasing our interoperability capabilities. This means being able to talk on the radio with the different agencies that respond in our area. The Federal Government is looking at re-banding radio spectrums so that Public Safety Agencies can relocate to the 700 MHz range. The radios which are being purchased for the APCO Project 25 project will also be capable of being programmed to the 700 MHz frequency. Every vehicle on the Department has at least one mobile radio and every individual on duty has a personally assigned portable radio.

2) Mobile Computer Terminals (MCT)

Every emergency vehicle on the fire department has an MCT. The Communications personnel can send response data, via a radio signal, to these MCTs. We are currently loading new software that will allow the ambulance crews the ability to do patient reports on the MCT's. In the future, we will also have on board mapping and the ability to fill out fire departmental forms in the field on the MCTs. For example, each commercial business and public building receives a fire inspection each year. Soon, the Fire Company Officer will be able to complete the inspection forms on the MCT and they will be forwarded to a common database. We are also currently doing testing on a new system that will allow us the ability to access the internet through a wireless system. Through the internet we will have the ability to access a greater range of information such as hazardous materials site information, as well as general haz-mat databases.

3) Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL)

This is the newest tool in the Fire Department's technological toolbox. AVL consists of a radio and a GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver/transceiver on each fire department unit and a series of computer equipment at the Communications Center. A signal from the GPS unit is transmitted to a satellite, the signal bounces back to earth and the radio system tells the computer system exactly where that unit is on a map all within 1 meter of accuracy. The AVL computer then talks with the CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) computer and tells us which is the closest unit to any given call for help. The department previously dispatched units based on the closest Fire Station to an incident, now with this technology; we are able to send the closest unit that is available to take the call.

4) Texas Department of Transportation Camera system

The TXDot camera system is a state-wide project which enhances traffic management. It allows the Texas Department of Transportation (through a contractor) to monitor the Texas highway system. This allows them the ability to monitor traffic trends and problems. This information is also available to the general public through the internet. Drivers are notified of lane closures or traffic congestion so that they can take alternate routes if necessary. Public Safety agencies also have the added benefit of being able to utilize the cameras to find the exact location of traffic accidents.

5) EMSystem

The EMSystem is a internet based system for reporting and monitoring hospital status in the region. It enhances preparedness, communication, and response to medical emergencies, mass casualty events and public health incidents. It allows us, the emergency responders the ability to note the emergency department status of all hospitals and allows us to better route patients