Clinton Township Fire Dept. to consolidate dispatch with county

Body armor to be in all vehicles in fleet

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published January 16, 2018

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — The Clinton Township Fire Department is expected to consolidate its dispatch service this March with the Macomb County Communications and Technology Center, or COMTEC.

Fire Chief Mike Phy, who is retiring Jan. 19, said consolidation of dispatch should theoretically improve the communication from the callers to the fire responders. He said that professionally trained dispatchers will handle 911 calls, enter them into a computer system and alert particular fire rigs, which will streamline and quicken the process.

He is “fairly confident” that March 5 will be the official consolidation date. Currently, dispatch is handled at fire headquarters at Station No. 4 on Romeo Plank Road.

“Our personnel in fire dispatch are not professional dispatchers, although I feel they do a very fine job. … Between (dispatchers’) superior typing skills, knowing how to glean proper information from the caller, and having a center that dispatches for neighboring communities, they enhance and speed up the entire process,” Phy said. “Calls that are processed quickly equates to a quicker response for citizens.”

Also, the department will no longer need to keep the firefighters trained in dispatching procedures, freeing up time to train in other aspects.

“We’ve been working diligently so we could use the county dispatch system,” Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon said. “It’s going to free up one additional firefighter for active duty every single day on every single shift, and it will be much more efficient. We’re thrilled about that, to be part of COMTEC.”

Body armor is also a point of interest, as it will be part of all vehicles in the future. Phy said it’s been on the department’s radar for approximately the last three years.

“It’s astonishing that it’s come to a time where we have to worry about our firefighters’ safety regarding active assailant situations and, actually, other potential violent situations we encounter,” Phy said. “We have been educating ourselves on the active shooter/assailant topic for quite a while and have just begun working with our police department to eventually train together, with regards to, say, an active shooter in a public place. I feel we are way behind.” 

Firefighters will not be part of the Police Department’s tactical team in terms of carrying weapons and searching for suspects. Rather, police officers will shield firefighters who have to remove injured victims from situations or who help police in the event that they become victims.

He called it a “win-win situation” that dramatically increases lifesaving potential.

Cannon said he will delve further into the topic at his Jan. 26 State of the Township address. Cross-training between police and fire will also help in possible hostage situations, creating perimeters to help victims and the public, such as what occurred during last year’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Lt. Timothy Duncan, who is succeeding Phy as chief, said he is looking forward to the technological advances the county can provide the township. It’s also an exciting time for the department as a whole.

Along with Phy’s retirement, Deputy Chief Randy Kandt is retiring Jan. 31 and Fire Inspector Pete Bailey is retiring Feb. 11. The retirements will give a number of personnel new responsibilities: Todd Stevens will be the new deputy chief; Paul Brouwer will be battalion chief; Chuck Champagne will be the new fire inspector; Joseph Repshas will take over as a captain; and Mike McLaughlin and Donovan Brach will be sworn in as new lieutenants. New firefighters will also be welcomed in the next month or so.

“Chief Phy has given us a very solid foundation to build off of, and we hope to carry on the proud traditions he has left us with,” Duncan said.