Rutland County Fire Mutual Aid Association

State Dispatch Program

Radio Policies and Procedures


                                                                                                                Adopted:  1994

Revised:  July 31, 2005

Table of Contents

 Article 1:  Administration

Article 2:  System Coordinator

2-1  Duties of the Coordinator

Article 3:  System Finance and Capital Equipment

3-1  assessments

3-2.1  Withdrawal From System  

3-3 Equipment Maintenance

Article 4;  System Transmitters and Frequency Use

4-1  Dispatch Frequency Use  

4-2 Testing

4-3  System Failure

Article 5:  Station and Unit Identification

5-1  Uniformity

Article 6:  Emergency Dispatch Procedures

6-1 Telephones

6-2  Dispatching a Call

6-3  Incident Scene Operations

Article 7:  Complaints and Disputes

Article 8:  Communications Recordings

Appendix A:  Unit and Station Identifiers

Appendix B:  Fire Department Responsibilities


 Any section that contains a border mark in the left margin is a section that has been either modified or added during the July 31, 2005 revisions. 

Article 1:  Administration


1-1  State Dispatch Committee.  The State Dispatch Committee shall be a standing Committee of the Rutland County Fire Mutual Aid Association.


1-1.1  The State Dispatch Committee shall consist of one designated representative of each participating department who shall have one vote in all matters.The representative shall be the Chief of department or an alternate designated in writing.A letter delegating voting authority, shall be signed by the Chief of Department.The Chief Coordinator shall serve as the Chairperson of the State Dispatch Committee.


1-2 System Protocols and Procedures.  System protocols and procedures shall be adopted or amended at a meeting of the State Dispatch Committee.Input will be sought from dispatchers and Department of Public Safety personnel involved in providing the service.


1-2.1  All departments participating in State Dispatch shall adhere to the policies and procedures adopted by the State Dispatch Committee of Rutland County Fire Mutual Aid.


1-2.2  Any department failing to submit required information, or repeatedly violating the policies and procedures of the system will receive an oral warning from the Coordinator for the first offense.Notice of the second offense will be made by the Coordinator in writing, delivered by certified mail.Upon a third offense, a department may have service suspended with a minimum of 30 days written notice by certified mail.Any such decision shall be subject to a majority vote of the State Dispatch Committee.


1-3  Frequency  The Rutland County Fire Mutual Aid Association State Dispatch Program will provide emergency dispatch to member departments transmitting on 154.250 MHZ with a PL of 131.8.


Article 2: System Coordinator


2-1  Duties of the Coordinator  The responsibility for coordinating the system rests with the Chief Coordinator, or in his/her absence the ranking Deputy Coordinator.


2-1.1  The Coordinator shall work to resolve all disputes concerning the use and operation of the system.


2-1.2  The Coordinator of Deputy may respond to major fires and emergencies when available, to assist the Incident Commander with communications, coordinating resources, and to assist and any way possible.


2-1.3  Coordinator Reimbursement  The Coordinator shall be given a stipend of $50.00 per year for each department on the dispatch program.He/she shall also receive reimbursement for all expenses incurred for the operation of the system including mileage at a rate equal to the GSA mileage rate, reimbursement for telephone calls, copying, postage, miscellaneous purchases of office supplies, emergency repair items, etc.The Coordinator shall also be provided with a cell phone, personal pager, mobile and portable radios, all of which shall be paid for by the State Dispatch Program.


2-1.4  Reimbursement shall be made by the Treasurer upon submission of an invoice for supported by receipts where applicable for such expenses.The amount of reimbursement shall not exceed the amount budgeted unless an additional amount is voted on by the State Dispatch Committee.


2-1.5  Stipend and expense amounts may be adjusted by a vote of the State Dispatch Committee.


Article 3:  System Finance and Capital Equipment


3-1  Any department participating in State Dispatch shall pay all assessments duly approved by the State Dispatch Committee in a timely manner.


3-1.1  Initial Buy In.  A department joining the State Dispatch Program shall pay a buy in fee of $1250.00, which is the amount that the original members paid to start the system and purchase the first transmitter.There shall be no claim to a refund should a department drop out of the system.


3-1.2 Annual Budget  The annual budget of the State Dispatch Program shall be prepared no later than November 1.The budget shall reflect the anticipated operating expenses for the fiscal year starting July 1 of the calendar year.The State Dispatch Committee fiscal year shall be from July 1 to June 30.The budget shall be voted on at the warned Mutual Aid Meeting before November 1.A simple majority shall carry the budget.Invoices shall be prepared and sent to member departments showing the amount due and the due date.


3-1.3  Assessments to Departments  Funding for the State Dispatch Program shall come from assessments to member organizations.Unless otherwise voted by the State Dispatch Committee, assessments shall equally share the overall operating costs of the system.Exception:When specialized equipment or services are needed to serve a community that community shall be responsible for the additional costs related to providing the service.


3-1.4  Member Department Expenses  Each department is responsible for the costs of their fire phones, communications equipment including back-up paging equipment, pagers, pager changes, etc.When upgrading pagers, they should advise the coordinator.Rutland County Fire Mutual Aid is only responsible for the RCFMA transmitters and does not guarantee coverage in any community.A department coming on State Dispatch should make sure tests produce adequate results prior to making the change.If special pagers, antennas, links, or other equipment is necessary to receive signals, the cost shall be the responsibility of that department.


3-1.5  System Accounts  All funds associated with the State Dispatch Program shall be maintained in a checking account.The account shall be an account of the Rutland County Fire Mutual Aid Association.The Mutual Aid Association Treasurer and the Chief Coordinator shall have authority to issue checks to make payments within the approved budget authorization.



3-2.1  Withdrawal From System  Any organization wishing to withdraw from the system shall furnish notice in writing, by certified mail to the Coordinator.The notice shall be at least 90 days in advance of planned withdrawal.The organization seeking withdrawal shall have no claim to any equipment purchased by the system or refund of funds paid to support the system prior to the effective date of withdrawal.


3-2.2  Any organization withdrawing from the system shall not use 154.250 MHZ frequency for any purpose after the date of withdrawal.


3-2.3  All equipment purchased for the State Dispatch Program by Rutland County Fire Mutual Aid shall remain the property of Rutland County Fire Mutual Aid.This includes any transmitter, encoder, or other equipment.


3-3  Equipment Maintenance  The transmitter on the top of Killington shall be maintained by the Vermont Department of Public Safety.The Rutland County Fire Mutual Aid Association will be billed each month for radio maintenance and microwave fees as established and agreed to by both parties.Bills for such services shall be sent to Rutland County Fire Mutual Aid, P.O. Box 6747, Rutland, VT 05702.


3-3.1  Rutland County Fire Mutual Aid may request a private contractor evaluate the Killington Transmitter to give a second opinion if performance issues are not resolved in a satisfactory manner by Department of Public Safety Radio Personnel.


3-3.2  The back-up transmitters shall be maintained by the Rutland County Fire Mutual Aid Association.The Association shall use the services of qualified radio service technicians.When working on State property the private technicians shall coordinate all activities with the Troop Commander or PSAP Administrator and Radio Division personnel.


3-3.3  The Rutland County Fire Mutual Aid Association shall maintain an incoming telephone line at State Dispatch for the purpose of providing accommodations for incoming fire-rescue emergency calls.This line shall consist of a three (3) line roll-over arrangement.


Article 4:  System Transmitters and Frequency Use



4-1.1  Permitted Uses of the Dispatch Frequency  Only alarms, county drills, county training announcements, and system administrative announcements (including funeral announcements) are permitted on frequency 154.250.Officer calls and special emergency situations may arise from time to time and are permitted provided they do not interfere with others using this frequency for emergency operations.


4-1.2  Prohibited Used of the Dispatch Frequency  Routine messages for regularly occurring meetings are prohibited by FCC Rules.Departments are encouraged to obtain dual frequency feature that would allow paging and messages on their own departmental frequency.The use of the dispatch frequency as a talk-around or car-to-car frequency is prohibited.Local departmental frequencies must be used for any communications other than messages intended for dispatch.


4-1.3  Apparatus Out of Service  Since State Dispatch does not track the status of each piece of apparatus within the system, departments shall not call State Dispatch to advise of apparatus out of service for maintenance, parades, training, or other details as this contributes to unnecessary traffic in the dispatch center.


4-2 Testing



4-2.2  The coordinator may request a transmitter test at any time due to weather conditions or power concerns.


4-2.3  Radio tests can be requested by department officers subject to activity at dispatch.These are routine and should not be done during an active emergency.


4-3  System Failure


4-3.1  In the event of a system failure of both designated transmitters for a department, dispatch will use a telephone back-up if provided by the department.If there is a failure of some duration, departments will be contacted and be required to staff their station with at least one qualified operator who can use local paging to alert the members of the department.This may have to remain in effect for the duration of the problem and will be the financial and operational responsibility of the department.


4-3.2  Any failure of the Fire Mutual Aid transmitters or paging capabilities shall be reported immediately to the Coordinator and if he/she is not available to the Dispatch Supervisor at Rutland who will contact a coordinator.The Coordinator will be kept advised of the nature of the problem and expected duration.If the primary transmitter is not working, back-up procedures in accordance with instructions provided to dispatch will be implemented.As soon as the problem is corrected, the Coordinator and affected departments shall be notified.


4-3.3  The Coordinator must be contacted and options discussed if such a failure occurs.


Article 5:  Station and Unit Identification

Example:“Pittsford Engine 1 to State Dispatch.”


5-1.2  When attempting to contact the dispatch center, the radio identifier of the caller, followed by “State Dispatch” shall be announced at the beginning of the transmission to obtain the attention of the dispatcher.


5-1.3  When attempting to contact State Dispatch, the field personnel attempting to contact the dispatcher will wait for an acknowledgement from the dispatcher prior to transmitting the message.


Article 6:  Emergency Dispatch Procedures


6-1  Telephones


6-1.1  Telephones  Emergency telephones will be answered as quickly as possible.The greeting will be “State Police Emergency Dispatch”.


6-1.2  The dispatcher will obtain the emergency information from the caller in accordance with procedures established by the Department of Public Safety.The dispatcher following the policies and procedures in the Fire Dispatch Resource Manual will dispatch the appropriate resources to the call.


6-2 Dispatching a Call


6-2.1  Non-Emergency Calls  Any non-emergency calls received by State Dispatch will be relayed to the Chief of the appropriate department or his officer designee either by phone or by radio.Examples of non-emergency calls include, but are not limited to, nuisance burning complaints, flooded basements, animals in need of assistance, etc.The department officer may then request a tone out if necessary.


6-2.2 Announcing a Call  The dispatcher should state over the RCFMA Dispatch Frequency “Stand by (name of Department) for a call” prior to encoding the appropriate tones.


6-2.3  Call Dispatch  The dispatcher will transmit the appropriate encoder tone(s) and give the dispatch message over the designated primary transmitter and then again over the designated secondary transmitter.


6-2.4  Re-Toning Unanswered Calls  If the call is not acknowledged within 2 to 3 minutes of the initial tones, the dispatcher shall re-tone the call.


6-2.5  Automatic Aid for Unanswered Calls  If the call remains unanswered for a period of 5 to 6 minutes, the dispatcher will consult the Fire Dispatch Resource Manual and will tone the designated automatic aid (back-up) department to the call.

NOTE:Based on the severity of the situation, the dispatcher may contact the back-up department sooner of a serious life or property issue is presented.If a back-up department has not been specified in the Fire Dispatch Resource Manual, then the dispatcher shall dispatch the next closest department to the incident location.


6-2.6 Department’s Acknowledgement of a Call  The call must be acknowledge as soon as possible by the receiving department.It is not necessary for multiple units to acknowledge dispatch.The Chief or ranking officer in town should be prepared to acknowledge the call as soon as possible.


Example:“Rutland Town 11 acknowledging the call.”



Example:“Chittenden Engine 1 is responding to 123 Chittenden Road for a Chimney Fire.”


6-2.9  Units Arriving on Scene  The first unit arriving on the scene shall advise State Dispatch of their arrival on the scene, provide a brief summary of the situation, and establish command.This is the only unit that should advise State Dispatch when they arrive on the scene, except for additional mutual aid assignments.

Example:“Castleton Engine 5 is on the scene, we have a fully involved structure fire, Castleton 11 is establishing command.”


6-2.10  State Dispatch Acknowledgement of On Scene Report  The dispatcher shall acknowledge the on scene report by repeating the arrival message.


Example:“State Dispatch copies Castleton Engine 5 is on the scene, reporting a fully involved structure fire, Castleton 11 establishing command”


6-3  Incident Scene Operations


6-3.1  Requests from State Dispatch  Any requests of State Dispatch should be made by Command, or the Incident Commander’s designee.A mobile radio should be used for communications with State Dispatch as portables are not always reliable.


6-3.2  Use of Alternate Frequencies for Operations  When more than one department is responding to the same incident, it shall be the responsibility of the Incident Commander to establish the use of alternate frequencies for fireground, water supply, or other operations.These frequencies should be the Rutland County Fire Mutual Aid Fireground frequencies (154.010 and 154.265).The use of alternate frequencies shall be established early in the incident.

Example:“Wallingford Command to State Dispatch.”“State Dispatch on Wallingford Command.”“Wallingford Command requesting one tanker from Clarendon and one tanker from Mt. Holly to the scene.Water supply operations will be on Mutual Aid Fireground Frequency 1.”“State Dispatch copies Wallingford Command requesting one tanker from Clarendon and one tanker from Mt. Holly to the scene, water supply operating on Mutual Aid Fireground Frequency 1.”


6-3.2.1  The Incident Commander shall advise State Dispatch of the use of alternate frequencies and the dispatcher shall advise additional responding units of the designated frequencies as they are inbound to the scene.


6-3.3  Air Priority For Emergencies  If a life threatening situation arises on the scene the Incident Commander or designee shall switch to the dispatch frequency and announce that air priority is needed on the frequency.State Dispatch will immediately acknowledge the request for air priority and all other radio traffic will cease until air priority is released by the Incident Commander.


Example:“Sherburne Command to State Dispatch.”“State Dispatch on Sherburne Command.”“All Sherburne units are clear the scene and returning.”“State Dispatch copies all Sherburne units are clear and returning.”


6-3.4  Returning to Quarters  When all units are returning, only the final unit leaving the scene needs to call State Dispatch and advise that the units have cleared the scene.


Article 7:  Complaints and Disputes


7-1 System Complaints and Disputes


7-1.1  Any complaint concerning dispatcher errors or system policy and procedures shall be directed to the Coordinator who will in turn discuss the matter/complaint with the Dispatch Supervisor or PSAP Administrator as deemed appropriate by the situation.If satisfactory resolution of the matter is not achieved through this process the Chief of the involved department and/or the Coordinator may request a meeting with the Troop Commander or Department of Public Safety Official designated as the point of contact to discuss the matter and seek resolution of the issue.


7-1.2  All matters pertaining to dispatcher performance are the domain of the Vermont Department of Public Safety as dispatchers are the employees of the department.If satisfactory resolution of a complaint cannot be achieved at the Station/Troop level, the Coordinator shall have the authority to take the complaint to higher levels in the Department of Public Safety chain of command and if a satisfactory resolution is not obtained may take it to the Commissioner of Public Safety.If satisfactory resolution is not achieved within the Department of Public Safety, the Coordinator is authorized to make contact with elected administrative and legislative representatives on behalf of the system.



Article 8:  Communications Recordings


8-1  Time Logs  State Dispatch will record the time of each of the following events during an incident:

a)  Call received

b)  Call dispatched

c)  Call acknowledged

d)  First unit responding

e)  First unit on the scene

f)  Any requests that are made of State Dispatch

g)  Last unit clear of the scene / Call complete


8-2  Obtaining Call Times  Call times can be obtained by the department by calling State Dispatch on the non-emergency line 802-786-6179.Times shall not be obtained over the radio unless a time is needed while still on the scene for investigative, planning, or other purposes.


8-3  Telephone Recordings  All State Dispatch telephone lines are recorded.


8-4  Radio Transmission Recordings  All radio traffic is recorded on the Killington Transmitter only.The back-up transmitters are not recorded.


8-5  Requesting a Recording  Recordings may be requested for good reason such as training, incident review, and legal matters.Requests for telephone or radio recordings must be made to the Coordinator, who will in turn place a request with the PSAP Administrator.The release of the recording will be governed by Department of Public Safety Policy.Requests should be made as soon as possible to the incident date to ensure the availability of the recording.Recordings of E 9-1-1 calls require a subpoena for release and must be done in accordance with the E 9-1-1 Regulations.

Appendix A:  Unit and Station Identifiers as Approved on September 14, 2003

The following unit numbers are reserved for use by the assigned unit only:


Rutland County Fire Mutual Aid Units


C1              Rutland County Mutual Aid Coordinator

C2              Rutland County Mutual Aid Deputy Coordinator

C3              Rutland County Mutual Aid Deputy Coordinator

C4              Rutland County Mutual Aid Deputy Coordinator

C5              Rutland County Mutual Aid Deputy Coordinator

Support 1    Rutland County Mutual Aid Support Unit #1

Support 2    Rutland County Mutual Aid Support Unit #2

Departmental Units

11                Chief of Department

12                Deputy/Assistant Chief of Department

13                3rd in Command of Department

14                4th in Command of Department

15                5th in Command of Department

16                6th in Command of Department







Examples:  Rutland Town Engine 1, West Rutland 11, Rutland County Support 1


Note:  All departmental unit identifiers must begin with the department name.

Appendix B:  Fire Department Responsibilities


A department using State Dispatch shall:


1.Obey the rules and regulations of the system at all times.


2.Provide current departmental information to State Dispatch through the Coordinator.


3.Maintain local paging capability on 154.250 and their departmental operating frequency.


4.Maintain fire emergency phones and not discontinue it without notification to the Coordinator and their community.


5.Pay all assessments in a timely manner.


6.Provide copies of all special requests to both the Coordinator and State Dispatch.


7.Maintain day and night points of contact for emergency issues.


8.Obtain permission from the Coordinator prior to allowing the installation of Rutland County Fire Mutual Aid frequencies in base, mobile, or portable radio equipment.These frequencies may normally only be installed in base, mobile, or portable radio equipment belonging to a fire department that is a member of the Rutland County Fire Mutual Aid Association and such permission is normally limited to departmental vehicles, officer’s mobile and portable radios, fire wardens, ambulances, Emergency Management Coordinators, and Mutual Aid System Coordinators.By FCC Rules, the Mutual Aid Association must have an accounting of all units operating on its frequencies.


9.All radio equipment should be equipped with a time out feature to prevent an open microphone from disrupting communications.


 Rutland County Fire Mutual Aid Association, Inc.
P.O. Box 6747
Rutland, VT 05702

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