South Sound 911 is the result of collaborative problem-solving efforts between 911 centers and the community. In November 2011, residents of Pierce County voted for a 0.1 percent sales tax increase to support public safety. With the community’s support, five1 911 centers consolidated under South Sound 911, and an integrated, reliable radio system is being built to provide better protection for first responders and safer communities.
Today, South Sound 911 is recognized as an expert in building police and fire dispatch interoperability2. The agency is now operating two 911 centers in Pierce County; together they answer approximately 900,000 emergency and non-emergency calls annually for 19 law enforcement and 18 fire/EMS agencies. All 4,591 South Sound 911-funded new public safety radios are in use, and in 2020 the agency expects to complete construction of its new state-of-the-art facility, a public safety communications center in Tacoma. There, South Sound 911 will finally be able to consolidate all of its operations and administrative services.
South Sound 911 is governed by two boards whose membership is comprised of leaders from South Sound 911’s member agencies – Pierce County, the City of Tacoma, the City of Lakewood, West Pierce Fire & Rescue, the City of Fife, and the City of Puyallup – and its partner police and fire agencies. The Policy Board of elected officials provides legislative and policy direction and the Operations Board of police and fire chiefs provides operational oversight and direction.
South Sound 911 currently employs approximately 230 personnel, many of whom work various shifts to provide 24-hour service for 911, dispatch, records management, and information technology. To read more about the agency’s significant accomplishments toward its promise to voters download the Abbreviated History 2012-2016 or download the 2017 Annual Report.
We will provide a modern, unified emergency communication and response system to protect and serve our communities and partner agencies.
We will collaborate with regional partners to protect lives, property and communities. We will enhance public safety by:
- Assuring prompt responses to all emergencies and service requests
- Serving the public trust with reliable, interoperable, efficient and financially responsible systems
- Inspiring industry excellence with innovative technologies and staff
About Our Community
Our service area is geographically diverse and demanding. Pierce County is the second most populous county in Washington state and a hub of international travel and commerce – via the Port of Tacoma, the largest transportation corridor in the state (Interstate-5), Puget Sound, its proximity to the Canadian border, and its position as a Pacific Rim state. It is also a major part of the state’s military core with Joint Base Lewis-McChord located within the county.
Pierce County’s 1,790 square miles include a forested mountain range with the largest active volcano in the Pacific Northwest (Mount Rainier), several major earthquake faults, 217 miles of Puget Sound saltwater shorelines, and a 2,400-acre port facility.
Pierce County’s other notable and unique sites include the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, one of the longest suspension bridges in the world; Chambers Bay Golf Course, home to the 2015 U.S. Open Championships; America’s Car Museum; Crystal Mountain Ski Resort; the Tacoma Dome, one of the largest wooden domed structures in the world; the Washington State Fair, one of the 10 largest fairs in North America; Point Defiance Park and the 600-acre Northwest Trek wildlife preserve.
1 Employees of the Law Enforcement Support Agency (LESA) transitioned to South Sound 911 on Dec. 17, 2012; Fife Communications transitioned on Dec. 28, 2014; Puyallup City Comm transitioned on Jan. 3, 2016; and West Pierce Fire & Rescue’s Fire Comm transitioned on Jan. 1, 2017. A transition plan is in development for Tacoma Fire Communications. (Buckley Communications previously merged with Fife Communications in December 2012.)
2 See the May/June 2018 issue of PSC, the official magazine of the Association of Public-Safety Communication Officials (APCO).
Bruce Kendall quote from The News Tribune, March 4, 2015.