Arlington dispatch agreement mulled

ARLINGTON - A new dispatch agreement may be in the works between the Arlington Fire Department and Manchester.

Keith Squires, chairman of the Arlington select board, brought this issue up at the last meeting of the board on July 28. He presented it to them as a possibility that is being explored. If this plan were to move forward, it would only cover the Arlington Fire Department. In an interview, Squires said the rescue squad is its own entity.

"We're still just in the discussion phase," he said. "A benefit would be the local knowledge [Manchester dispatch would have]."

Currently, Arlington contracts with the State Police out of Rutland Barracks for all their dispatch needs.

Manchester Police Department communications director Robert Madison said there would be obvious benefits for Arlington, should they chose to move their services to Manchester.

"The benefits are obvious now that the state radios have moved to Rutland ... we have an intimate knowledge of streets and roads [that officers in Rutland may not]," he said in an interview. " We're not as busy as the state police office, so we can give them quicker attention."

Madison said because Manchester and Arlington are in the same mutual aid coverage area, the dispatch panel would be in one location, making it easier for communication to be disseminated.

John O'Keefe, Manchester town manager, said it would be unfair to categorize what Manchester could provide to Arlington fire as just dispatch. He said the state police offer dispatch - or sending out a call to the Arlington fire department and the location of the call.

"What Manchester offers is above and beyond that," he said in an interview. "We offer emergency operations, dispatch ... communication in the field ... strategic thinking aspects, like keeping track of assets."

In the July 28 select board meeting, Squires mentioned a cost needed to be taken into consideration with this decision. The state does not charge for their dispatch service, he said, but that it would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of five or six thousand dollars to move to Manchester.

O'Keefe said a price has not yet been decided upon, because this arrangement is still in talks. However, he did say the number will be fair to Manchester tax payers.

"It [the cost of services] needs to be fair to them and fair to us," he said.


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