E-Comm welcomes 22 fire departments in the Fraser Valley and North Okanagan to its dispatch services

E-Comm fire dispatch staff during the FVRD fire dispatch transition go-live on February 20.
(L-R) E-Comm fire dispatch staff: Ted Rivers, Andrew Gillan and Rob Kennedy during the FVRD fire dispatch transition go-live on February 20.

E-Comm is now providing dispatch services for 15 fire departments in the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) and seven fire departments in the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO). Dispatch transitions were completed in February.

E-Comm has been the 9-1-1 answer point for the RDNO and FVRD since 2014 and 2016 respectively. “This expansion of our existing working relationship is a great step to further strengthening public safety in both regions, and I know our fire team will provide the same level of excellent service to these new fire departments as they deliver to all agencies we serve,” said Erin Ramsay, E-Comm vice-president of Operations. “We know the firefighters and citizens of both regional districts are in good hands.”

Map of E-Comm's current fire dispatch regions in BC
From the Sunshine Coast to the North Okanagan, E-Comm now dispatches for 40 fire departments.

E-Comm’s experienced fire staff, including call takers and dispatchers, have undergone specific training to learn more about the geography of both regions in order to provide the best emergency response to these new partners and the public. As part of the training, fire call takers and dispatchers learned more about local areas including commonplace names (such as Browns Corner in the RDNO, Vedder Canal and Bear Mountain Trail in the FVRD).  On the technology front, E-Comm worked with staff from both regional districts and the fire departments and computer-aided dispatch (CAD) specialists to prepare for these transitions. This included reviewing all policies and procedures from the fire departments and setting up wireless communication to each of the departments so firefighters on the ground can communicate with E-Comm dispatchers.  E-Comm gathered and loaded data such as locations of schools, community centres and other commonplace names into its computer systems.  Representatives from the fire departments took part in workshops to review maps and policies as part of the transition process.

E-Comm GIS Technologist Tammy Chabot conducted workshops with fire department representatives as part of the transition planning.
E-Comm GIS Technologist Tammy Chabot conducted workshops with fire department representatives as part of the transition planning.

E-Comm is expected to handle about 20,000 fire calls a year from both regions.  In 2018, E-Comm staff managed more than 68,000 fire emergency calls on behalf of its fire dispatch agencies. With the addition of the 22 fire departments from the FVRD and RDNO, E-Comm is now dispatching for 40 fire departments in B.C.