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All Is Well In The World Of The Cody Interagency Dispatch Center

by Andrew Tkach

Cody Interagency Dispatch Center.

A New Day breaks over Cody Interagency Dispatch Center.
Photo By Andrew Tkach

Cody Interagency Dispatch Center.

Worland Field Manager Bill Hill addresses guests at the Grand Opening. Photo by Ruffin Prevost.

All is well in the world of the Cody (Wyoming) Interagency Dispatch Center (CDC). “I pinch myself every morning when I walk in” says Greg Warner, center manager, as he looks around with outstretched arms. “After working 21 years in the old building, it is absolutely wonderful…” The old building he refers to is visible a few hundred yards away next to the apron at Yellowstone Regional Airport; a dilapidated 10 x 20 feet, two story, cinder block, 1960’s era converted air tanker base with low ceilings, a steep, narrow staircase, and coed toilet. “In the summer the air conditioner couldn’t keep up with the heat that radiated through the roof.”

On a recent sunny morning at its dramatic site at the feet of Rattlesnake and Carter Mountains, representatives of state and federal agencies assembled to celebrate the new

dispatch center. The $1.7 million, 4,600 square foot facility is over ten times larger than the old dispatch center, and capable of accommodating expanded operations and extra personnel in the event of large, or multiple fires. Add to that amenities like a 75 kilowatt backup generator, new computers and radios, lockers, showers, exercise room, briefing room, full kitchen and lunch room, ADA compliant access, and a system that tracks aircraft movements at the scene of a fire. The result is a thoughtfully designed, highly effective communications center that will make it’s presence known with the coming fire season.

CDC is the central fire dispatch office for wildland fires in north central Wyoming. It coordinates firefighting support for the BLM, U.S. Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Forest Service, and Wyoming State Forestry, although as for that Warner is quick to point out, “It’s definitely not just fires anymore. We’re getting more into responding to other incidents as part of the ‘all risk’ philosophy of incident response,” where dispatchers coordinate shared resources closest to where they’re needed regardless of agency ownership. “It’s crazy to think that we used to have to get a resource from Colorado when Billings (Montana) had the same thing much closer.” Closer usually means quicker, and in his example it means five to twelve hours quicker; enough to make difference.

“More than ever before, no one does anything in firefighting alone. We neighbor up,” said Tim Murphy, BLM deputy assistant director for fire and aviation. Over the past five years CDC has coordinated responses to 598 fires covering 115,000 acres in north central Wyoming, while dispatching 254 crews, 419 aircraft, and 1078 engines. During the same period, it handled an additional 636 emergency responses in the form of people, supplies, and vehicles for natural disasters nationwide.




Last updated: 05-13-2008