Merged dispatch services expected soon for NP, Pawtucket

Merged dispatch services expected soon for NP, Pawtucket

Lombardi says other communities also knocking

NORTH PROVIDENCE – A merging of emergency dispatch services between North Providence and Pawtucket is expected to be consummated by the first of March.

North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi said he’s also in talks with other communities about joining a regionalized dispatch center at the new North Providence Public Safety Complex.

“I can say that two other communities and a possible third have reached out in the past couple of weeks interested,” he said. “Regionalization of services is all of the communities’ salvation.”

This consolidation, he said, “is something that should have happened a long, long time ago.”

A part-time Pawtucket dispatcher told The Breeze he’s losing his Pawtucket gig and has applied for a similar position in North Providence, but hasn’t heard yet whether he’ll receive it. Officials also expect five new full-time jobs to be created in North Providence.

In return for North Providence hosting Pawtucket’s dispatching, Pawtucket is expected to pay North Providence $600,000 annually. Pawtucket would then be able to avoid making expensive upgrades to its own dispatching center.

Officials still aren’t indicating exactly what they expect in terms of combined savings for the two communities, but said for a story last November that they thought it would reach $300,000 or more.

The merged services will improve overall efficiencies and response times for emergency calls, said Pawtucket officials last year.

North Providence Communications Director Ralph Nahigian is the one coordinating the merging of services, and employees in a newly merged dispatch center will work for him, according to Lombardi.

Lombardi said Nahigian guaranteed him that the “best of the best” will be retained as dispatchers after final interviews. At least two current employees from Pawtucket will be retained, he said.

Nahigian is working closely with Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien and Chief Tina Goncalves to finalize the details of the merger.

The new safety complex in North Providence, constructed with money from a 2012 settlement with Google over illegal advertising practices, was built with the idea that it could accommodate services for other departments.

Regionalization, long a buzzword in northern Rhode Island and elsewhere in the state, has gotten real legs in recent years, with North Providence now also sharing animal control and some other services with surrounding communities.

Grebien said this week that Pawtucket is continuing to prioritize and improve public services for residents. For more than a year, public safety has been working with North Providence toward consolidation of dispatch, he noted.

“These shared services will support the long-needed technological improvements to the dispatch center as has been communicated by the fire union over the last several months,” he said. “This collaborative effort provides a huge opportunity for both Pawtucket and North Providence.”

These are exciting times in moving Pawtucket’s public safety response to the next level, said the mayor.

“With the ransomware attack of last year, it was made even more clear that we needed to invest in necessary technological upgrades. Upon very close review, it was concluded that investing in a joint fire dispatch with North Providence and their state-of-the-art facility was in the best interest of our residents,” he said. “This consolidation will improve the overall efficiencies and responses to all emergency calls related to the fire departments, which will result in better service for those in need. We look forward to beginning this partnership with the town of North Providence over the next couple of months.”