San Luis Obispo is asked to handle South County dispatch services

A request from two South County cities for San Luis Obispo to provide fire and police dispatch services will be considered by the City Council Tuesday.

The request follows a recent move by Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach and Oceano to consolidate fire services with a new Five Cities Fire Joint Powers Authority — a change that takes effect July 9.

Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach police departments now share fire dispatch services for the three communities, but believe it would be more efficient if the San Luis Obispo Fire Department took over that responsibility.

The San Luis Obispo City Council will decide if city staff should pursue contract discussions with Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach. If the council decides to go forward, city staff will determine the possible impacts and advantages of providing the services — and develop a financial proposal.

The services would be provided out of the city’s new dispatch center located at Fire Station 1 at Santa Barbara and Broad streets that is expected to start operating July 14. The center, run by the San Luis Obispo Police Department, handles both police and fire calls.

Last December, several cities participated in a dispatch consolidation study that identified the possibility of all dispatch services for Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach and Oceano being consolidated through San Luis Obispo.

The expenses of the Five Cities Fire Joint Powers Authority, which includes 15 full-time fire engineers and captains and about 25 reserve firefighters, will be shared by Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach and Oceano. Five Cities Fire Chief Mike Hubert said a lot can be gained by consolidating the fire dispatch services.“Right now we are trying to work between two different dispatch centers, which can create some confusion for dispatchers if units have already been sent to a call,” he said.

In addition, consolidating the services would help standardize training, he said.

San Luis Obispo Police Chief Deborah Linden said potential benefits may include a dedicated funding stream for dispatch services, technology replacement and increased staffing.