“Box 7793, Randolph and Thompson streets, fire is reported at …”
They are known as the first of the first responders – the dispatchers and call-takers who work in the Fire Communications Center (FCC). On Friday, 10 dispatcher trainees will officially join the Philadelphia Fire Department at a graduation ceremony at Engine 38.
“These 10 individuals will help the FCC continue its tradition of excellence in handling all types of emergencies at any hour of the day or night,” said Chief Dispatcher Kelly Collins.
The event marks the completion of an intense eight-week training course in which the graduates become state-certified professional public safety telecommunicators. That enables them to work in the FCC – the nerve center of the Fire Department, where workers answer 911 calls and dispatch Fire and EMS vehicles to incidents citywide.
The FCC, which has about 50 staffers, received nearly 568,000 calls last year.
“Philadelphia Fire Department dispatcher 911, what is the address of your emergency?“
Michael Archey, who graduates Friday, said the fast-paced job carries a lot of responsibility but is also very rewarding – especially when he can hear the sirens arriving in the background during a call.
“Just knowing that we were able to get them help is the most gratifying thing for me,” said Archey, a father of two who previously spent six years in the U.S. Army.
Archey (pictured above) described his fellow FCC employees as a group of caring people who take great pride in their work. If you are interested in becoming a dispatcher, check the city jobs site for the civil service exam announcement for Police Communications Dispatcher Trainee. The Police and Fire Departments use the same exam.