Tulsa Fire Department Hopes Dispatch System Glitches are Resolved

Jan 10, 2014

Credit KWGS News File photo

Tulsa Fire Department has been dealing with problems with its computer-aided dispatch system, but Deputy Chief Scott Clark was hopeful they would be resolved today.

The department has experienced glitches because two pieces of the system supplied by different vendors weren't working together. 

Crews had a status button in their trucks that didn't reliably show them back in the station, and that could delay or prevent an automated signal — called a drop — from opening the station and alerting firefighters to a call. Clark said the public was never endangered, but the problems were tough on department personnel.

"Well, I'm sure that it's more stressful, because they're concerned about missing an incident, not being dropped," Clark said. "For the dispatchers, they're worried about that as well."

The fire department has had dozens of conference calls with the vendors in the last month. A test of the system earlier this week was unsuccessful, but the system seemed to be working yesterday morning. A final test is today.

The problems drew the ire of Councilor Blake Ewing at an urban and economic development committee meeting yesterday. Ewing said the city has been misled and the companies should be held responsible.

"I want it to be that when people do business with the City of Tulsa, they know that they better be forthright and speak the truth, or we're going to come after them every single time," Ewing said. "Our job is to defend that taxpayer dollar, and it's frustrating when it feels like money's going out the window for stupid things like this."

Clark also told the committee the fire department is working with an old drop system. A new one could give firefighters much more information about calls, but it could cost around $1.8 million.