South Sound 911 is trying to buy property in Fircrest or Tacoma to build its safety communications center, which for the first time will house police and fire dispatchers in the same building.
The agency looked at about 15 sites before selecting a9-acre lot at 2119 Mildred St. W. in Fircrest that once housed a manufacturing business. The second choice is 6 acres at 6700 S. Adams St. in Tacoma.
Pierce County, which is partnering with South Sound 911 to secure a facility, has made offers on both pieces of property. A spokesman declined to disclose the amounts without a signed deal to buy one of the sites.
Only one property will be purchased.
Agreements are in place to essentially hold the properties for 180 days while the agency further evaluates the sites and chooses a development team to construct the facility.
The building is slated for completion in two years.
Four companies have been asked to submit a proposal, and South Sound 911 intends to hire one early next year.
“Both sites meet specific criteria in terms of security considerations and size,” South Sound 911 executive director Andrew Neiditz said.
“The Fircrest site is preferred because it is closer to the transportation hub at Tacoma Community College and it’s also situated on the periphery of the two major fire and EMS dispatching centers for the county. It makes it very central.”
South Sound 911 was created in 2011 after voters approved a one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax to increase public safety, in part by developing a regional radio and dispatch system.
Incompatible systems have been replaced, and several fire and law enforcement agencies now can communicate no matter where they are.
Other parts of the plan include a computer-aided dispatch system, next-generation 911 phone system where people can use text messages to interact with emergency dispatchers and a state-of-the-art communications facility.
The agency did a study last year and decided it would like to construct a two-building campus on about 6 acres. One building, which will be about 55,000 square feet, will house dispatcher operations.
South Sound 911 serves 41 jurisdictions and dispatches for Pierce County, Tacoma, Lakewood, Puyallup, Fife and West Pierce Fire & Rescue. The new facility will bring together an estimated 250 employees.
The second building is expected to be 25,000 square feet and will house administrative offices, the Information Services department and a public counter where people can do fingerprinting and process applications for carrying a concealed pistol.
Although the Fircrest property is bigger than the agency needs for its project, Neiditz said that doesn’t pose a problem because South Sound 911 could lease a few acres for commercial development.
South Sound 911’s current communications building in Tacoma is 3,000 square feet — much too small to bring all dispatchers from all jurisdictions together.
Their communications building or Puyallup’s dispatch center are contenders to serve as a backup facility for the new communications center. The backup site will have additional power supplies and could fit 32 employees.
“This is the first time that we’re going to have police and fire communications working together,” Neiditz said. “That in and of itself is a big deal.”