by Dan Gray
The Lance- Intern
A new Joint Emergency Response Unit was unveiled by two emergency services departments Dec. 1 at Windsor’s Festival Plaza.
Windsor Police Services and Windsor Fire and Rescue Services joined forces to purchase the new unit. It was originally owned by Emergency Management Ontario before being put up for auction late last year.
According to Bruce Montone, Windsor’s fire chief, the unit cost $955,000 after being upfitted. He said the vehicle was worth about $1.4 to $1.5 million dollars when the province originally purchased it.
“Both organizations were looking at the challenge of replacing their individual command units, it only made sense,” said Montone. “We both needed the same thing so why not work together and save some money for the ratepayers of the city and produce a state-of-the-art vehicle that is going to serve our needs not only today but well into the future.”
A walk through the old units and into the new one shows a lot of upgrades. According to police Chief Al Frederick they have lots of communications equipment, including complete communications centres inside the vehicle. It allows a dispatcher to work from the unit instead of from an offsite dispatch. He said the new unit is equipped with different video and audio capabilities. Everything inside supports the units that would be on scene at an emergency.
“The departments would normally have both of their own command posts, this is a shared asset so that’s where the savings comes in,” said Frederick. “Typically they would be about $1 million to $1.2 million for both of our organizations and we got this for $955,000 so it’s really a great asset.”
Frederick said from a police perspective the unit would be used at critical incidents around the city. Any situation that would take lots of resources for a lengthy period of time would justify deployment of the unit. He said as a command post it basically serves as a portable police station.
Montone pointed out the unit would allow not only police and fire to work together at an incident but also for other community organizations when they arrive. He said departments would have this unit at their disposal in situations like weather events, snow emergencies and large fires, among others. He said all the command personnel will have this tool to help integrate decision making on scene.
The old command units that suffer from mice chewed wires and failed equipment that couldn’t be repaired will be disposed of by the individual departments. The new unit will be stored, serviced and driven by Windsor Fire. The maintenance costs are currently unknown but will be split between the two departments.