Communications is a part of the Fire Alarm Division and is staffed by 12 full time Fire Alarm dispatchers. The communications center is staffed 24 hours a day by 3 dispatchers on duty at all time. The communications center was moved to its current location at 38 Lake Street after decades of being located at 14 Court St the former location of the City's Central Fire Station. The Central Fire Station was converted to the Nashua center for the Arts where performances are held to this day. Nashua Fire Rescue's communications is one, if not the only, communications center that occupies an old fire house. The building built in 1901 is the second oldest fire station, in the fall of 1999 was complete renovated into a state of the art communications center.
Back-Up SystemsThe communications center has multiple redundant systems and has complete back up power systems. The center monitors 21 Municipal Fire Alarm signaling circuits with over 850 fire alarm boxes, the city wide radio system control computer, a dozen incoming phone and telephone tie lines, multiple Mobile Data terminals to each fire apparatus, over 40 radio channels, TTY/TDD terminals and monitors and a direct data link to the Enhanced 911 system. Each dispatcher's console has a minimum of three computers and a minimum of 5 computer monitors to view.
Systems UsedDispatcher's operate on both the citywide 800 trunked radio system and conventional VHF frequencies along with monitor only channels for bordering towns. The City of Nashua went online with the 10 trunk channel system in the summer of 2001. The radio system utilizes multiple control points, three transmitter sites and various methods of connectivity. The citywide radio system connects every city department through common radio channels along with higher security with digital encryption.
CallsNashua Fire Rescue's communications center handled over 35,000 calls for service in 2018. Dispatchers handle all Fire Department call volume and three dedicated 911 ambulances provided by contract through American Medical Response.
TonesThe dispatches of all calls are preceded by tones and are broken down into 3 tones:
- "Low ramping up tone" for Service and/or Still Alarm type incidents. This low pitch tone increases in pitch and signals either service calls, where units respond with traffic without lights or siren (non-emergency call for service) or Still Alarm Calls, where units respond utilizing lights and sirens. For both service or still alarm calls, the amount of apparatus is less than a 1st alarm assignment.
- "High tone" for First Alarm (or greater) tones. This high pitch single tone is used for First Alarm calls (units respond with utilizing lights and sirens) with a minimum of 2 engines, one ladder and the Deputy Chief. Maximum First Alarm assignments can be 3 engines, 1 ladder, and the Deputy Chief; this is dependent upon call information received. The high tone is also used to signal additional alarms being struck for larger scale incidents.
- A special alert tone is also utilized by dispatch in events of Firefighters being injured on scene, a safety situation on a call requiring all members to be aware. This alternating pitch tone is only used in emergency situations.