TEMPLETON, Calif. – San Luis Obispo County held a groundbreaking ceremony Monday morning to officially celebrate the start of construction on a long-planned brand new state-of-the art consolidated emergency services dispatch center.
"It's finally here and it's going to be really good to watch this come to fruition," said San Luis Obispo County First District Supervisor John Peschong, who lives close to where the new facility will be built. "It's going to coordinate all of our law enforcement and our public safety efforts in the county to be able to have a faster response time and make a difference."
When completed, the $39 million 19,000 square foot, two-story facility will house dispatching services for both the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office and San Luis Obispo County Fire Department/CAL FIRE.
"It's going to be a much more seamless operation than it is now because we'll be co-located, the fire dispatch and the law enforcement dispatch," said San Luis Obispo County Fire Department/CAL FIRE Chief John Owens. "What it will do is increase the efficiency and effectiveness of getting resources to the emergency calls to the residents of the county."
Currently, both departments operate their own dispatch services separately, but have been working towards building a co-located facility for more than 10 years.
The new dispatch center will bring all incoming calls for service under one roof, consolidating operations, which will result in greater efficiency and quicker response times.
"Consolidating them will allow both centers to be together and operate as one, so it a medical comes in, they immediately get it, so there is no delay," said Sheriff Ian Parkinson, who along with former fire chief Robert Lewin, helped start the process to build the new dispatch center. "As we know, particularly with medical emergencies, and crime for that matter, in reference to CAL FIRE, seconds count, so any time we can save seconds, minutes from transferring a call, as opposed to just dispatching emergency personnel is crucial."
According to the county, other key project and benefits will include:
- Faster and better coordinated 911 and emergency response for a safer community
- Better able to manage and communicate with emergency personnel during major fire events, earthquakes, flooding or other natural disasters
- Co-locating dispatching services saves on operational and maintenance costs in lieu of two separate 24-hour facilities for Fire and Law Enforcement
- Ability to add dispatching capacity and staff as service levels grow
"This is not a 10-year building. It's a 50-year building, and we had to build it in such a way that we both the ability to expand our services," said Parkinson. "I think we're all very excited because it's a great partnership. People expect law enforcement and fire to be together in a lot of ways because we are, but this is truly a partnership between the state, our local CAL FIRE, the Sheriff's Office, and the county, and so we're finally making that step forward. This will absolutely save lives."
During Monday's ceremony, several county officials were on hand at the construction site, which is located adjacent to the existing Sheriff sub-station off Main Street in Templeton.
On hand for the groundbreaking was Parkinson, Owens, Peschong, along with District 2 Supervisor Bruce Gibson, District 4 Supervisor Jimmy Paulding, District 4 Supervisor Debbie Arnold, as well as other county leaders and employees, along with representatives with the project builder Diani Building Corp.
Initial grading work on the site kicked off a construction project that is expected to last for more than a year and a half.
The target to open the new dispatch facility is summer 2025.
"It's been a long time coming, but it's finally here and today is the day and we look forward to its completion, said Owens.
The county is using a variety of sources to build the facility, including several grants, state funding, County General Funds and Public Facility Fees.
For more information about the project, click here.