South Sound 911 issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) in June 2017 for an architectural and engineering team to work on the design of the public safety communications center (PSCC). From that competitive process, the CallisonRTKL was awarded a contract to perform programming and pre-design architectural and engineering services, and followed by a contract for the schematic design and design development phases.
South Sound 911’s public safety communications center (PSCC) will include space for 911 and police and fire dispatch, a municipal emergency operations center EOC), administration, records and public counter services. It will be constructed to meet National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), National Emergency Number Association (NENA), and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) standards for essential facilities.
Beginning April 2018, South Sound 911’s PSCC entered into the schematic design phase, which concerns the building’s functional layout. South Sound 911 staff at all levels began providing input on spatial needs, workflows and departmental relationships. So far, that work has yielded a basic “map” of the three-story facility, from which more detailed schematic designs will be created.
The public safety architectural engineering and design experts are also working to ensure the PSCC is strong enough for South Sound 911 to ensure survive-ability and continuity of operations. Like other essential facilities, it will be designed to withstand natural or man-made catastrophic events so South Sound 911 may continue providing critical emergency services for first responders and the countywide community.
The layout shown here is not the final design, it is for illustrative purposes only.
While not an exhaustive list, the public safety communications center will include:
- 911 and dispatch operations and an emergency operations center (EOC)
- Administrative space with a lobby and public counter for services such as fingerprinting, concealed pistol license application processing and other services
- Equipment for radio communications
- Generators and water and fuel tanks for emergency operations
- Secure employee parking
- Visitor parking
- Landscaping / landscape buffering
- An extended setback of 85′ to meet standards for essential facilities
Will the radio tower be safe?
If a radio tower is used – yes, per Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines. Radio- frequency (RF) safety limits were adopted by the FCC in 1996 based on the recommendations of expert organizations and endorsed by agencies of the federal government responsible for health and safety. New radio communication towers that are registered with the FCC have to demonstrate that they are compliant per the guidelines found in FCC OET 65 and OET bulletin 56 on maximum permissible exposure (MPE).
It is important to remember that the specific, geographical location of South Sound 911’s public safety communications center, as well as the surrounding conditions, are an important factor as to how the agency transmits and receives its radio communications. South Sound 911 is exploring alternatives to a radio tower. Based on the site’s location, a tower may not be necessary; however, reliable radio communications equipment is a necessity for South Sound 911 communications.