City of Spokane lays off several fire dispatchers

City of Spokane lays off several fire dispatchers

The City of Spokane notified 10 fire department communication specialists that they will be laid off on July 1.

The lay offs come ahead of the Spokane Regional Emergency Communications rollout, which will begin operations on July 1. In a release, the city said the affected employees will be offered opportunities within the SREC agency.

The City of Spokane has not yet made a decision about whether it will join the new regional communication system.

The City of Spokane has been providing communication, dispatch and related services to fire districts in the county, as well as the cities of Medical Lake, Airway Heights and Cheney. All of those agencies have decided to contract with SREC for those services instead.

According to the release, if the city joins the regional system, SREC would provide communication and dispatch services for the Spokane Fire Department and Spokane Police Department. All city employees involved in dispatch would become part of the SREC system and the city would have the ability to assist with negotiation of wage and benefit packages for its employees.

The released noted that if the city decides not to join the system, employees would continue to provide dispatch and communication services for SFD and SPD. The city would essentially be operating a duplicate communication center that would provide services only to the city. The employees who are laid off and then hired by SREC would receive pay and benefits set by the SREC agency.

RELATED: Debate continues over merging Spokane 911 dispatchers into regional emergency response

In November, the City Council unanimously vetoed efforts to integrate the 911 dispatchers into SREC. The effort to integrate is supported by Mayor David Condon, who stated at the time, it would save the city $4.2 million on dispatching services.

The council voted against the dispatcher integration, saying there was not enough information provided to show that the move made financial sense.

The city has until May 21 to decide whether or not to integrate its dispatching services with SREC.

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