OCEAN CITY- After an untimely fire that resulted in critical damages to the town’s current equipment, the Ocean City Council voted to replace the emergency dispatching system on Tuesday.
Emergency Services Director Joe Theobald came to City Hall on Tuesday afternoon to ask for emergency funds totaling just over $22,000 to replace all six of the town’s dispatch consoles used by the town’s communication division.
“Specifically, it’s an instant call recorder that is at every dispatch console that provides us the ability to play back the last 30 minutes of conversation,” said Theobald, “It is considered to be mission critical equipment as it is used to clarify conversation should something take place in the field.”
According to Theobald, there was a catastrophic failure in one of the recorders in the floor of the dispatch center that resulted in a small fire in the wiring. Although they were able to secure and snuff out the flames very quickly, Theobald said that he was requesting for a full-replacement of all six recorders rather than just the one that failed in order to ensure that the untimely blaze didn’t happen again.
“After seeing the spaghetti wiring under that floor, we have concerns that if another recorder were to go up in smoke this would create other problems,” said Theobald, “Likewise, the equipment has been in place since the building was erected in 1994.”
Theobald noted that he was asking for “emergency appropriations” as this wasn’t a “planned or budgeted event”, also requesting to forgo the standard bidding process that would lengthen the job.
Apparently, the instant call recorders have run non-stop since their installation in 1994-95, and the age of the equipment and the fact that they had already caused a fire, moved Theobald to just want to replace the entire system.
“We were very fortunate that we were able to quickly mitigate the condition without further damage to dispatching equipment or the central wiring,” said Theobald, “But if another fire were to take place, we may not be as fortunate, which would result in the evacuation of personnel, damage to more critical equipment, and perhaps shut down the entire communications center for a period of time.”
The new equipment that will be installed for the dispatch consoles will be the Zetron Model 3022, which is considered to be in the top echelon of equipment of its kind.
The council okayed the request to skip the bidding process, as it seemed that Theobald’s department had already gotten four quotes for the job, and recommended the lowest of which, $22,160 by Teltronic Corporation.