|Thursday, Mar 21, 2013|
Teton Interagency Dispatch Center (TIDC) dispatchers cut a ribbon on March 8th to celebrate the move into their long-awaited new home. The new facility, located at Moose in Grand Teton National Park’s rehabilitated HQ building, accommodates and provides sufficient space for year-round interagency staff, and seasonal employees who work during the summer season.
TIDC supports law enforcement, wildland fire, aviation, search and rescue, EMS, structural fire, and maintenance operations for Bridger-Teton National Forest (BTNF), Grand Teton National Park, the National Elk Refuge, Wyoming State Forestry and three Wyoming counties (Lincoln, Sublette and Teton). The interagency center provides coverage for over four million acres of federal and state lands, and is jointly staffed and funded by Grand Teton and BTNF.
The new TIDC is a far cry from its humble beginnings in a room slightly larger than a closet. In 1994, Grand Teton’s dispatchers moved into the park’s maintenance building—a space that became affectionately called the ‘cave.’ This area expanded from one small room to two when Grand Teton and BTNF dispatch operations co-located in 1998 and then merged in 1999 to establish the official Teton Interagency Dispatch Center. Even with expansion, the old space was too cramped for the seven permanent and three seasonal staff that managers envisioned. Unfortunately, the ventilation system often drew exhaust fumes in from the auto shop next door, and the dispatch center became windowless when additions were added to the maintenance building. Furthermore, as responsibilities increased over time, the staff grew accordingly.
The new TIDC contains six dispatch consoles and two administrative offices that accommodate eight permanent staff, six seasonal employees and numerous initial attack dispatchers who detail during the fire season. The new facility also includes work space, more storage and an adjacent meeting room. Best of all, it has windows with unobstructed views of the Teton Range.
Another benefit of the new facility is that TIDC will be able to host expanded dispatch during fire season in a nearby conference room. “Expanded dispatch has always been located far away (14 miles) at the Forest Service office in Jackson, and we couldn’t meet face-to-face whenever they had questions,” said TIDC Manager Heather McDonald. “Work will definitely flow more smoothly by having expanded dispatch co-located with TIDC.”
For the past two years, while the new facility was under construction, TIDC moved to a swing space in a separate building. Although that space was larger and had clerestory windows, it was only a temporary home. “The new space is much more inviting for fire managers and incident commanders,” McDonald said. “At times, during wintertime search and rescues, the old dispatch center also served as the incident command post, or at a minimum, a gathering place for those who needed SAR information. It was always very cramped.”
Funding to support construction and outfitting of the new dispatch center came from a variety of sources, including the National Park Service fire facilities fund, the USDA Forest Service IT replacement program and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The new center is in the same wing of Grand Teton’s headquarters building as the fire and law enforcement offices, which allows for better coordination of operations and one-on-one communication.
"We would like to thank everyone who had a hand in making this new center possible from its inception, to the planning and design, to the construction and our final move," said TIDC Manager McDonald. “We are very excited to be in our final and much improved space!”
“I have a deep and abiding respect for our dispatchers, a result of spending numerous hours over the past few years listening to the radio and observing their hard work and tireless dedication on behalf of the Bridger-Teton,” said Jose Castro, deputy forest supervisor for the Bridger-Teton National Forest. “I am always impressed with the level of professionalism displayed by our dispatchers and I am grateful that we have a modern center that will allow them to continue to serve those that recreate on our public lands in this important capacity.”