The confidence of Tucson residents in our 911 operations and dispatch system is of the utmost importance to me as well as the rest of my colleagues on the Mayor and Council.
Under the direction of General Services, we have faced several operational and technical issues with the 911 system transfer, as well as a lack of communication on challenges arising with the transition to our new system.
For this reason, I support the transition of administrative operations of 911 communications from General Services to the Tucson Fire Department. A significant majority of cities over 500,000 triage and take in emergency calls through their local fire department. The department is well equipped to manage the General Services portion of the 911 system going forward because Fire/EMS is the primary customer of the system, and its staff has the greatest operational connection with the system.
Emergency calls are best handled by the departments with the experience and the knowledge to attend to those calls. Currently the Tucson Police department dispatches police related calls to their officers, and it only makes sense that Tucson Fire, a renowned and esteemed department within our City, handles incoming calls for their own first responders as well.
Tucson Fire has always done an excellent job servicing the City of Tucson and we believe this administrative change will mark a positive change in leadership for 911 operations at the City. I am confident that the department will be able to resolve the remaining operational and technical issues and work with staff and our regional partners to ensure our 911 system continues to be reliable and effective.
Interim Chief Jim Critchley has been serving as the interim director of Tucson Fire, and I have asked the City Manager and my colleagues on the Council to move forward with naming him Fire Chief permanently. His 23 years of experience with the department and his leadership abilities make him the natural choice for the position, and a critical asset to the department. Please see attached letter from Interim Chief Critchley regarding the transition of 911 communications to his department.