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City releases 911, fire department studies

Nathaniel Herz

The city has released a pair of much-anticipated studies of Anchorage's public safety systems.

The first reviewed the management and staffing of the city's fire department, and reveals a wealth of information about response times, staffing, and station locations.

It shows that firefighters are not meeting several of their performance standards, including goals for the amount of time it takes to dispatch firefighters to high-priority calls, and for emergency responders to arrive on scene.

The second study, of Anchorage's 911 system, explores the city's options for technology upgrades, and examines the costs and benefits of combining the police and fire dispatch operations, which are currently separate.

It shows that completely combining the two operations would allow the city to cut spending on salaries and benefits by about $250,000 annually. That would also improve the city's ability to process calls, and cut down on duplicate efforts between the two departments.

The city, however, would have to spend as much as $1.2 million more to combine the operations than to stick with the status quo. That move would also result in the loss of a back-up sites.

Mayor Dan Sullivan was still reviewing the reports as of Tuesday evening, according to spokeswoman Lindsey Whitt.

The Anchorage Assembly is expected to discuss the report at a work session on Friday. And Assemblyman Bill Starr is planning to introduce a resolution to combine the fire and police dispatch operations at the Assembly's meeting next week.

The reports, totaling 212 pages, were done by the Matrix Consulting Group, which is based in California, at a cost of about $175,000.

Reach Nathaniel Herz at nherz@adn.com or 257-4311.


By NATHANIEL HERZ
nherz@adn.com