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$38.6M Dispatch Center for CAL FIRE, Sheriff to Include Tech Component

The plan calls for $5,670,102 to be allotted for a communications tower, software and dispatch systems furniture for the San Luis Obispo County facility.

A new dispatch center shared by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office will soon be built in Templeton.

The San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors voted last week to award a nearly $23.5 million contract to Santa Maria-based company Diani Building Corp. to design and build the center. Construction will begin in the spring of 2023 and should be completed by November 2024, according to Steve Neer, San Luis Obispo County’s associate capital projects coordinator.

CAL FIRE and the Sheriff’s Office often work together to respond to emergencies, so the shared facility will improve that collaboration.

“The goal was to have a facility that we can operate out of effectively,” said Sheriff Ian Parkinson. “There’s a public benefit to speeding up the communication between public safety entities in the same room.”

CAL FIRE Deputy Chief John Owens agreed that housing his agency and the Sheriff’s Office in the same building will improve communication and collaboration “for all types of emergencies — not just fires, but all-risk emergencies throughout the county.”

The main Sheriff’s Office station, which was built 40 years ago and is now too small, shares its building with PG&E and the county’s Emergency Operations Center, so the agency is not able to expand its office.

The new dispatch center, which will be located on north Main Street in Templeton, will include an 18,000-square-foot dispatch building, a 140-foot-tall communication tower and 64 parking spots and landscaping, county documents said. It will be able to accommodate 15 to 30 staff members.

The new dispatch center will be built on a lot alongside an existing Sheriff’s Office substation and a San Luis Obispo County Department of Agriculture building. That site is close to the freeway, which allows CAL FIRE and law enforcement to get to emergencies quickly. The center will include a variety of facilities, such as a fire mobile command unit, sheriff bomb truck shelters and a secure armory.

There will also be radio communications space, an IT server and amenities for staff. The communications tower will send radio waves to and from other dispatch centers so they can communicate about emergencies in the area. The tower will have 45 attached antennas, which increase its combined height to 160 feet. Additionally, the tower combines a 60-foot communications tower from the sheriff’s dispatch facility and an 80-foot tower from CAL FIRE’s dispatch facility.

San Luis Obispo County has spent about $1,973,000 on the dispatch center project since 2013 and has budgeted for another $36,681,523. The project’s outstanding costs are as follows:
  • $23,482,458 for design and construction.
  • $5,670,102 for a communications tower, software and dispatch systems furniture.
  • $6,028,963 for soft costs including permit and inspection fees.
  • $1.5 million for unanticipated expenses.

Much of the project is already funded by numerous sources, including the county's general fund, Proposition 172 monies and public facility fees for law enforcement and fire services.

The county’s auditor-controller still must sell about $25 million in bonds to cover the rest of the project, but the county is able to begin the design and building process without those funds.

(c)2022 The Tribune (San Luis Obispo). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.