SLOCSO, Cal Fire propose joint facility

TEMPLETON — Cal Fire Chief Scott Jalbert and San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson presented preliminary plans to the Templeton Area Advisory Group on building a co-located dispatch facility in Templeton. The proposed project combines Cal Fire and the sheriff’s department’s separate dispatch operations to serve all of San Luis Obispo County.

As of now, the Sheriff’s dispatch handles all incoming 911 calls for the county which are then distributed to relevant stations. A fire emergency is first received by the sheriff’s department and then sent to Cal Fire to handle the call. Both departments operating from one hub would increase efficiency.

“A couple of years ago we had a discussion of how we take two aging centers and move them into one,” Parkinson said. “We think it’s much more efficient and safer for the community to have one center for when the 911 call comes in.”

Both Jalbert and Parkinson said that each of their departments have outgrown their respective sites. A dispatcher’s worksite, known as pods, are packed with monitors that display information such as maps and traffic conditions. As technology has evolved over the past several decades, the facilities that house the pods did not. 

“Our dispatch center is basically a doublewide constructed in the 1950s — it was actually the kitchen of the fire station,” Jalbert said. “We outgrew that center a few years ago.”

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The building’s prospective site is at the Sheriff’s substation, located at 356 N. Main St., Templeton. The 24-hour operation center will house 20 to 30 dispatchers and will also serve as the Sheriff’s Watch Commander’s office. The office oversees dispatch services and patrol operations on a daily basis. The Watch Commander also prioritizes calls and handles all notifications during law enforcement-critical incidents and natural disasters. 

The two leaders stressed that the project is still in the beginning stages but came to TAAG as a courtesy. When asked, Jalbert confirmed than an Environmental Impact Report still needs to be completed. Templeton Community Service District board member Pamela Jardine asked if the County had enough water units to support the further development of the property. Parkinson said the question was outside of his purview but he would send it up the developmental chain of command.

With Templeton being a water-deficient community, development is limited to water resources available to support it. According to a 2018 Templeton Community Service District development fee impact study, water units are site-specific and are equivalent to 575 gallons per day. TCSD General Manager Jeff Briltz said that public service projects can be moved to the top of developmental waitlists. 

Parkinson said the County plans to complete the dispatch center by 2023 with a caveat that the time may change. Both he and Jalbert said that the additional fire safety and law enforcement personnel in Templeton would generate additional revenue for the small community.