April 09, 2020
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Move of dispatch center delayed until February

BANGOR – Dispatchers with the Penobscot Regional Communications Center, which dispatches emergency services for much of the county, will have to wait a little longer before they can move into a new home.

When the move of dispatch from the basement of 3rd District Court on Hammond Street to the third floor of the Penobscot County Courthouse next door was first discussed earlier this year, the hope had been that it could be made in the late fall or by the end of the year at least.

But in order to meet fire code and other building requirements, county officials are saying dispatch won’t be making the move until February.

The estimated 20 new fire-retardant doors, a wall separating stairwells on the first floor to contain a fire, and a fire suppression system are part of the requirements in the works.

“The entire project has to be complete before occupation can occur,” Penobscot County Administrator Bill Collins said Wednesday.

The project is expected to cost about $224,000, while new dispatch consoles will cost another $104,000.

Earlier this week, Jim Ryan, PRCC director, gave a brief tour of the work in progress. The relocation has been the major undertaking for Ryan, who took over as the center’s director in February.

With the attention of a proud new father, Ryan went over the aspects of the eight workstations in place, workstations that are as convenient as they are efficient.

A hydraulics system allows the dispatcher to independently adjust two levels of each desktop. Fans and lights on the desktops and a heater below allow dispatchers greater flexibility to set their own work conditions. The computers and wiring are away from view in the workstations but still easily accessible.

With four to seven dispatchers on duty at any given time, the new facility has room to grow built in, and Ryan pointed to space in the room where at least three more stations could be added.

Still awaiting placement are the computer and electrical systems. The ductwork and vents for the center are in, and two offices have been walled off.

In the attic above, a room for the actual radio equipment is halfway completed, Ryan said. A similar room for the new E-911 equipment is done and awaiting review by the state, Ryan said.

The new E-911 equipment, which will display location maps and not just a name and address when an emergency call comes in, is being ordered and will take 12 weeks to come in, Ryan said.

The new system also allows calls coming into the system to be routed to the next available dispatcher rather than ringing at all dispatch workstations.


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