Fenton Fire Department fears cutting local dispatch would up response time

The City of Fenton is looking at getting rid of its 911 dispatch to save money.

But as NBC25 found out, the move could affect response time and people's safety.

Fenton's fire chief says the city's dispatchers know every street, every business, and the quirks behind every call that comes in, and its information like that which save lives.

The manager of Tim Hortons in Fenton knows the value of having a city-run 911 dispatch.

A lady had choked in the lobby, and she was actually unconscious, and they were here within five minutes, and got her out and she was fine, said Eric Andrews, the General Manager of Tom Hortons in Fenton.

But Fenton City Council is considering getting rid of its dispatch and using Genesee County Central Dispatch for its 911 calls instead.

Officials say the move would save the city about $300,000 annually.

When it comes to safety, I don't think you should ever cut corners around safety, said Andrews.

The Fenton fire chief understands why budgets need to be cut, but says having a local dispatch is a vital resource for the community.

Our dispatchers know every business, every street, they know people, the know people at addresses because the deal with them all the time, said Chief Robert Cairnduff of the Fenton Fire Department.

And if 911 dispatch is eliminated, the chief says there's a possibility response time could go up.

The rule of thumb, for every minute that goes by a fire doubles in size, so obviously, minutes and seconds are important to us, said Chief Cairnduff.

When a call comes in, at least six firefighters jump on the truck and head out, but if Fenton uses a central dispatcher, one of the firefighters would have to stay behind to man radio traffic during the incident.

Something the fire chief is concerned about.

We would become one of some 20 other agencies being dispatched, and right now we are one of one, and we are the number one priority, said Chief Cairnduff.

Public safety is something these guys hope the city keeps as their top priority.

Fenton's police chief says if their dispatch goes so will the city's lock-up and the jobs of four dispatchers.

The Fenton Fire Department responds to about 500 calls every year.