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Dispatcher Job Description
The Position of Fire Dispatcher
Dispatchers work four nine-hour days and one eight-hour day, then have three days off. The next week they will work four nine-hour days then have two days off.

All dispatchers who have successfully passed the training program are able to bid for their shift. Bids are based on seniority, with the most senior person being able to bid their shift first and then proceeding down the list. Bids are done once a year. The shifts available for dispatchers to bid on include:
  • Day shift: 5:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.
  • Swing shift: 1:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m.
  • Midnight shift: 9:30 p.m. until 6:30 a.m.

Each shift will have between five and eight dispatchers on duty. Days off within the shifts vary. They range from having Saturday, Sunday, and every other Monday off to having Tuesday, Wednesday, and every other Thursday off. When dispatchers bid they not only select the shift hours they want to work, they select the days off within that shift as well, based on shifts determined to meet call volume.

The Communications Center is a 24/7 operation running 365 days a year. Dispatchers work holidays and weekends. They are also subject to overtime, both voluntary and mandatory, on a regular basis.

Emergency Calls & Dispatching
One of the main duties of the communications dispatcher is to determine what type of assistance is needed. Dispatchers must take a person’s story and condense it into a brief explanation of what happened and why fire or medical attention is needed. As you may imagine, when people call 9-1-1 they are usually upset, angry, or in distress; therefore, getting an explanation of why help is needed is not always an easy task.

Dispatchers assigned to work a radio position are responsible for dispatching emergency fire units to calls for service. These dispatchers are responsible for tracking the status of all fire companies within the City of San José.