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Tacoma Fire Communications

Tacoma Fire Communications "Where Service and Seconds Count" 



The goal of Tacoma Fire Communications is to facilitate the mission of the Tacoma Fire Department. This is achieved through:

  • Timely receipt and triaging of emergencies using Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) and All-Hazard Cards.
  • Accurate dispatching of appropriate resources using Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL), Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) and Fire Response lists.
  • Monitoring all incidents and events, fulfilling resource requests from Incident Commanders and proactively intervening when necessary.
  • Resource management with command authority of Fire Department resources to assure area wide coverage that supports prompt and efficient response.
  • Monitoring of emergency radio activation to enhance firefighter safety and accountability.


Tacoma Fire Communications is an APCO certified agency and uses the recommended call processing time standards of NFPA 1221. NFPA 1221 (2016 edition) stipulates a call processing standard of:

  • Ninety-five percent of alarms received on emergency lines shall be answered within 15 seconds and 99 percent of alarms shall be answered within 40 seconds.
  • With the exception of call types identified below, 90 percent of emergency alarm processing shall be completed in 64 seconds, and 95 percent of alarm processing shall be completed in 106 seconds.
  • Emergency alarm processing for the following call types shall be completed within 90 seconds 90 percent of the time and within 120 seconds 99 percent of the time:

Calls requiring emergency medical dispatch questioning and pre-arrival medical instructions.
Calls requiring language translation.
Calls requiring the use of TTY/TDD device or audio/video relay services.
Calls of criminal activity that require information vital to emergency responder safety prior to dispatching units.
Hazardous material or Technical rescue incidents



Tacoma Fire Communications Officers and Firefighter/Dispatchers are considered the “first responder on the scene” and can substantially affect the outcome of an incident. Working in partnership with field operations personnel, Fire Communications uses a “citizen-centric” approach to decision making. With the support of technology (AVL and CAD), Fire Communications dispatches the closest available and appropriate resources to ensure the citizen is receiving the highest level of care in the shortest amount of time to mitigate the incident.

Standard Operating Procedures and Fire Response lists standardize and guide the decision-making process at Fire Communications but it is understood that no set of policies or response lists can replace the judgment of a well-trained human being. Policy or procedure is not intended to take the place of doing what is known to be the correct course of action in a given situation.

The underlying subtext to all Fire Communications operations is that the officer or in-charge has the best information currently available and his/her judgment and discretion shall prevail. Tacoma Fire Communications expects Officers and those working in-charge to use experience, good judgment and common sense with the goal of providing quality customer service for decisions made. If a deviation from policy or fire response list is determined appropriate, officers or in-charge personnel will be expected to provide a valid reason for doing so.


The vision of Tacoma Fire Communications is to support the Tacoma Fire Department vision of “being a first-rate municipal fire department, well regarded by the communities we serve.” Fire Communications will provide this support by:

  • Providing sworn uniformed Officers and Firefighters who have acquired at minimum certifications for Firefighter 1 & 2, Emergency Medical Technician and Emergency Medical Dispatch.
  • Using industry “best practices” to meet or exceed NFPA 1221 emergency alarm processing recommendations.
  • Adapting to changing fire service and community needs.
  • Proactively pursuing opportunities to better serve and inform field operations personnel.
  • Actively researching and evaluating new and emerging technology.