From 1995 through January 14, 2009, the Emergency Communications Center (ECC) facility was located in the Fire Headquarters complex at 489 Broadway near Harvard Square Cambridge. The center first opened as a joint police and fire dispatch center on July 30, 1996. Historically, the city had operated a Fire Alarm office (within the Electrical Department) and a Police Communications Room (within the Police Department). Dispatchers from both separate centers were consolidated in the new ECC under the management of the Emergency Communications Department.
The city consolidated its separate centers to reduce delays associated with 911 call transfer to a separate fire/EMS dispatch center; to improve coordination of response to incidents requiring simultaneous police, fire, and EMS response; to consolidate new computer and radio technology in one - rather than two - locations; to provide an organizational structure to guide the professional development of public safety dispatchers; and to gain some economies of scale from one larger - rather than two smaller - dispatch centers.
The ECC is the city's "nerve center". Personnel in the ECC receive all 911 emergency calls, firebox alarms, and various other emergency signals and then dispatch police, fire and EMS units to those emergencies. In addition, the ECC operates as the telephone switchboard for the police and fire departments receiving hundreds of business and information calls each day. The ECC also serves as a central station for intrusion alarms from city buildings; it coordinates requests for firebox "disconnects" and "reconnects"; it dispatches animal control officers; it operates the CJIS/NCIC/NLETS police computer system; it performs various notification functions using radio, telephone, and paging systems; and it provides many other services for the city and its two large "user" agencies (the police and fire departments).
The ECC facility contained 6000 square feet of renovated space including a 44' by 27' Main Communications Room with eight ergonometric dispatch console positions for 911 call-taking, police dispatch, fire/EMS dispatch, police and fire business call answering, police computer operations, and shift supervision. Overlooking the Main Communications Room is an equipment room which contains a complimentary set of equipment and houses the Chief of Operations. Behind these rooms is a supervisor's storeroom with critical supplies, a dispatcher break room with a fully equipped kitchen, and the locker and bathrooms. The entire floor is secure and is served by an elevator with key-lock access.
The ground floor contains a telephone and electric equipment room, a computer room, a radio equipment room, two storage rooms, a training and conference room, and an administrative area with three offices. The front door is accessible by ramp, and a proximity card-key system provides 24-hour security while allowing easy access for staff in wheelchairs. HP parking was also installed for both ECC and Fire Department Headquarters usage.
Additional facilities to support the ECC during power outages or major storms include a 100 kW generator which serves both the ECC and Fire HQ, lightening protection and surge suppression equipment, and a wide variety of uninterruptible power supplies.