Fire Dispatch

Cincinnati Fire Communications

Today’s Fire Communications Section has evolved many times from the original Fire Tower that was erected in 1845 on the roof of the Mechanics Institute Building at Sixth and Vine Streets in Downtown Cincinnati. 

This tower commanded a clear view of every part of the city.  At that time, the Communications Personnel were Watchmen that were on duty around the clock.  When a fire was spotted, one, two, three, or four balls on top of the tower were illuminated depending on the district in which the fire was located.  The alarm was also struck on a mammoth bell to notify the companies of a fire and to let them know in which area the fire was located.

In May of 2005, the combined Fire and Police Communications Section moved to its home that is conveniently located with the new Regional Emergency Operations Center and various other City and Hamilton County agency offices. In this new facility, we have implemented 800 MHZ radio system technology, a new telephone system, and we are currently in the process of implementing new technology for our Computer aided dispatch system.

As our Fire Department is known for its' richness in tradition, the center is still known by many today as "The Fire Tower."

In the new facility, "The Fire Tower" is once again located high above the Downtown buildings and continues in its tradition of keeping "watch" over our city.

Interesting Facts

  • In the 1950s, the Fire Division began to use two-way radios for communications.
  • The first dispatch console was a homemade device fabricated from sheet metal and contained the control relays and audio amplifiers for remote operation of the base stations.
  • In 1967, a voice communication "page" system was installed with new custom-built radio consoles in the Fire Dispatch Office at Eden Park. This allowed a new system of voice dispatch with an acknowledgement from the fire companies on an electric light board.  The "page" system was a type of intercom transmitted on landline between the tower and the fire companies. A newer version of this "page" system is still in operation at today's dispatch facility.
  • In May 1991, Cincinnati Fire Dispatch broke new ground in the region by implementing an extensive Emergency Medical Dispatch System. This system provides life-saving instructions to citizens in the time it takes for an engine company to arrive on the scene. Thus, fire dispatchers have become true  "first responders" on emergency medical calls. Over the years, many lives have been saved by the implementation of this system.
  • The Cincinnati Fire Department dispatchers currently maintain an Emergency Medical Technician certification as well as an Emergency Medical Dispatch certification.
  • The Fire Dispatch team processes over 72,555 Fire and EMS incidents per year.