North Providence and Pawtucket emergency dispatch services to merge next month
NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — It’s official: starting in March, calls for fires in Pawtucket will be routed through North Providence’s new public safety complex.
Mayor Charles Lombardi says merging emergency dispatch services has been in the works for more than a decade.
“Very, very excited about this, Lombardi said, “not because it’s in our community, but because it’s the right thing for the municipalities to do.”
Some residents expressed initial concern about longer response times.
But officials say the trucks will still be based in the same locations, and that new technology — like better data and mapping — could actually shorten response times.
“The technology we’re advancing to is much more sophisticated than anything we’ve worked with before,” said Pawtucket Fire Chief William Sisson, “and it’s going to be very beneficial.”
Pawtucket will be paying north providence roughly $600,000 a year to provide the serves.
But officials say the move could save both municipalities hundreds of thousands of dollars combined.
Part of that savings coming from not having to maintain as many buildings.
But part is also coming from layoffs among Pawtucket dispatchers.
“We had 15 part–time dispatchers,” Sisson said. “And the number’s been cut down.”
North Providence is planning to hire five new full–time dispatchers.
But some residents aren’t sure that’s enough to handle both municipalities.
“They would need a lot more people to be answering the calls,” said one Pawtucket residence.
But Lombardi is still confident that it’s the right move.
“It’s going to save time, save money, save lives,” he said. “It’s our salvation.”
Mayor Lombardi says he’s also in discussions with three other communities to consolidate their emergency dispatch services with North Providence.