The Philadelphia Fire Department (PFD) hires dispatchers to work in the Fire Communications Center (FCC). These “first of the first responders” are responsible for answering 911 calls in one of the busiest fire/EMS systems in the nation. The FCC dispatches fire companies and ambulances to emergencies across the city, and it serves as a liaison to other public safety agencies during these incidents 

The ideal candidates will be able to multi-task and make quick decisions in a high pressure environment, pay attention to details, speak with a clear and confident voice, and be able to typeThe PFD’s motto is “Dedication + Service,” and our members live those values every day in the City of Philadelphia.  

How do I apply to be a dispatcher in the PFD?  

If you’re interested in becoming a dispatcher, check the City jobs site for the Civil Service exam announcement for Police Communications Dispatcher. Apply for the position even though it says “Police” dispatcher. The Police and Fire departments have separate 911/dispatch operations but they hire dispatchers from the same applicant pool. 

Will the PFD train me to become a dispatcher?  

Yes. The training takes place at the Philadelphia Fire Department’s headquarters at 240 Spring Garden St. It takes six to eight weeks of classroom training, and up to four weeks of on-the-job training. Trainees are paid during this time.  

What will I learn during training? 

Dispatcher trainees will learn how to dispatch fire companies and ambulances to incidents such as house fires, car accidents, building collapses and medical emergencies. Trainees will also be taught how to answer 911 calls from people reporting similar types of emergencies. Trainees will learn PFD policies and procedures, and they will become state-certified in these areas: 911 call-taking; emergency dispatching; emergency medical dispatching by priority dispatch; and life-saving CPR.  

How does the hiring process work?  

  1. If you’re interested in becoming a dispatcher, check the City jobs site for the Civil Service exam announcement for Police Communications Dispatcher (even if you want to work for the PFD). Apply for the position.  
  2. Selected candidates are notified of the exam date by email.  
  3. Candidates take the exam and then are ranked by performance on a hiring list. 
  4. The PFD or Police Department requests the hiring list when they need to hire dispatchers.
  5. Candidates are contacted in ranked order. If the PFD is hiring but you would rather work for Police, you can decline the PFD offer while keeping your rank on the list. 
  6. PFD candidates interviews are scheduled and conducted by PFD’s human resources department and FCC Chiefs.  
  7. Selected candidates are offered the position.  
  8. Each candidate must complete a physical examination, City indebtedness and background checks (unless already a current City employee).  

How much do dispatchers get paid? 

The starting salary for a Fire Equipment Dispatcher Trainee is $35,743. After a year of good performance, Trainees are promoted to Fire Equipment Dispatcher. The starting salary is $42,769 and goes up to $46,786. There are opportunities for overtime and promotions 

What shifts do dispatchers work? 

Dispatchers work about 15 days a month, with every other weekend off. Some dispatchers work 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; others work 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. 

What if my question isn’t answered here? 

For questions about the application process, please contact the Office of Human Resources at hrhelpdesk@phila.gov or 215-686-0880.  

Meet some of our dispatchers! 

FCC personnel serve as lifelines to everyone they speak with. Learn about their experiences and find out more about the job from these profiles.