Click to Home
Go To Search
Fire Department
CommunityBusinessVisitorsGovernmentEnvironment
San Jose Home
Communications Center
Communications Overview
The San José Fire Department Communications Center is recognized as an Accredited Center of Excellence (ACE) by the International Academy of Emergency Medical Dispatch. Only 132 communication centers worldwide have earned this honor.

San José Fire Communications has 45.48 authorized personnel. This includes 30.48 Public Safety Radio Dispatchers, 11 Senior Public Safety Dispatchers, 3 Supervising Public Safety Dispatchers, and 1 Senior Office Specialist.  The Deputy Chief of the Fire Department Bureau of Field Operations serves as the Communications Manager. 

To meet the needs of its large population, the San José Fire Communications Center has a state-of-the-art dispatch center. Systems include:
  • Fire Priority Dispatch System (FPDS) to provide pre-arrival and safety instructions for fire emergencies, resulting in “zero response time”
  • Fully-computerized Positron "Power 911" telephone system
  • Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS) to provide pre-arrival instructions for medical emergencies, also resulting in "zero response time"
  • Intergraph Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) system with ProQA software for FPDS and MPDS
  • Fully-computerized Pisitron "Power 911" telephone system
  • Ergonomic sit or stand dispatch work stations
  • State-of-the-art learning center

Calling 9-1-1
San José Police Communications is the primary Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for 9-1-1 calls. Police department call-takers initially answer each call with, “San José Emergency. What are you reporting?” Requests for fire and/or medical assistance are transferred to a fire dispatcher.

San José Fire Communications is the secondary Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for fire or medical calls in San José. Fire dispatchers process all incoming calls for fire and medical assistance. Once calls are created for service, fire dispatchers dispatch the proper emergency unit(s) from one of the 33 fire stations located in San José. Emergency calls requiring medical assistance are also relayed to the County Communications Center for an ambulance to be dispatched.

Fire communications dispatchers use a Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) system designed by Intergraph. Within the CAD system, an automated geographical file database containing maps and addresses of the entire city is utilized to recommend appropriate fire emergency units to respond to the call. The fire stations and equipment in the field are notified of emergency calls via a station alerting package. The CAD system, upon dispatch of a call, opens vocals at the proper station allowing firefighters to hear the details of the call they are being dispatched to. The system also transmits a printed message on the station printer, activates the lights, bells, and even turns off the station stove.

As a support to other City departments and furthering our community service, Fire Communications is also responsible for systems control. On weekends, holidays and after hours, fire dispatchers are responsible for processing non-emergency calls for the Department of Transportation (DOT). These calls range from sewer problems to debris in the roadway to malfunctioning traffic signals. Fire dispatchers also dispatch the appropriate city crews to handle these calls for service.

Another role of systems control is to troubleshoot problems with computer, radio, and phone systems within the center. From time to time, they are also tasked with troubleshooting issues at various City facilities. These requests are handled in a variety of ways, from notifying building supervisors to having technicians respond to handle the issue.

The San José Fire Department responds to approiximately 77,000 calls for service each year.  Whatever the issue,  San José Fire Communications dispatchers get the job done!

Calling 9-1-1 for a Medical Emergency
If you are reporting a medical emergency, be prepared to answer the following questions:
  • What is the address of the emergency?
  • What is the phone number you are calling from?
  • Tell me exactly what happened?
  • How old is the patient? He or she?
  • Is she/he conscious?
  • Is she/he breathing?

The dispatcher will then ask you a series of questions based on the medical problem the patient is having. These questions are predetermined using the Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS). After the questions are answered, the dispatcher will provide you with instructions to assist the patient while the emergency units are en route to the location
of the emergency. Fire dispatchers are able to provide instructions to help patients with breathing difficulties, to provide CPR, to assist a person who is choking, or to help deliver a child.

Calling 9-1-1 for a Fire Emergency
If you are reporting a fire emergency, be prepared to answer the following questions:
  • What is the address of the emergency?
  • What is the phone number you are calling from?
  • Tell me exactly what happened?
  • Are you at that location now?

The dispatcher will then ask you a series of questions based on the type of fire emergency you are reporting. These questions are predetermined using the Fire Priority Dispatch System (FPDS). After the questions are answered, the dispatcher will provide you with instructions pertinent to the emergency you are reporting. Fire dispatchers are able to provide instructions to assist individuals trapped in a structure fire, to help individuals in sinking vehicles, or to assist individuals with children locked in vehicles.

To meet the needs of the diverse community we serve, the Communications Center is set up to assist callers whose first language is not English. We utilize a very helpful and accurate translator service which assists in obtaining the nature of the emergency. We are then able to relay the information to the units responding and with the help of the translator we can relay instructions to all callers.

Remember: Whatever your emergency may be, the dispatchers are there to help. They speak to callers on the phone, while their radio partners dispatch the emergency units to the location of the emergency. Speaking to a 9-1-1 dispatcher does not slow down the response of the units coming to your location. It only helps the emergency units responding understand the situation they will encounter.

The Community
San José, California is a unique place, playing a vital economic and cultural role within North America.  San José is fortunate to be the largest and most urban city within the Silicon Valley, known for the nation's largest number of leading innovative companies.  San José is also home to an energetic, talented and diverse population and is located within the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area with an abundance of good weather.

San José's quality of life is unsurpassed.  Located roughly 50 miles south of San Francisco and 30 miles east of Pacific Coast Beaches, the City is in a valley surrounded by the Diablo and Santa Cruz mountain ranges and enjoys an average of 300 days of sunshine a year.  Those living and working in San José have access to the city's many attractions, cultural and performing arts, and recreational opportunities.  A year-round calendar of festivals and celebrations supports the community spirit.  Nearby open space provides easy access to mountain parks, trails, lakes and streams.  San José has received accolades for its living and working climate from publications including Business Week and Money magazine, as well as other national media.  Recently, Sperling's Best Places rated San José #1 as the healthiest city in America.  The downtown area is home to modern hi-rise housing, renovated theaters, and cultural attractions.  Nightlife options include ballet, opera, symphony, live theater, nightclubs and restaurants; and inquiring minds are served at the Tech Museum of Innovation, the Museum of Art and the Children's Discovery Museum.

Nineteen public school districts and over 300 private and parochial schools provide residents with a range of educational choices; innovative programs in local school districts include a nationally acclaimed performing arts magnet, as well as concentrations in math and science, international studies, and more.  San José State University is the leading planning, engineering and business school supporting Silicon Valley.  Other nearby universities include Santa Clara University, Stanford University, and three University of California campuses.