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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. The CAD system contains maps and addresses of the entire city and 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. 

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? Male or female?
  • Is she/he awake?
  • 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 interpreter 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 interpreter we can relay instructions to all callers. 

Remember: Whatever your emergency may be, the dispatchers are there to help. While one dispatcher speaks with a caller on the phone, another dispatches 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.