Public Safety Communications provides dispatching for Foster City and all other fire agencies in San Mateo County. Combined dispatch is a necessity as all fire agencies in San Mateo County have joined forces to provide engine-based paramedic service as subcontractors to the County's ambulance provider, American Medical Response. In order to provide this service most effectively, all fire agencies in San Mateo County respond outside their traditional City boundaries with the closest engine regardless of jurisdiction. A single communications center, with a broad view of all of the emergency activity in the County at any given time, is a key to program success.
By law, all emergency 9-1-1 calls must go to the Public Safety Answering Point in the City in which the call was placed. All calls from Foster City are answered by dispatchers in the Foster City Police Station. If your emergency is of a fire or medical nature, it is then transferred to Public Safety Communications in Redwood City for dispatch of the closest fire department unit to you. Although the additional step in dispatching may make the call seem long, it is likely that a unit will reach you sooner than before because of efficiencies in the system and boundary drops that allow the closest engine to respond. Even as the dispatcher is still talking to you, engines are rolling out to help.
One of the greatest benefits of participating in the single communications center is the ability for every community to get back-up assistance automatically. As soon as both of Foster City's engines roll out to a call, the Dispatch Center sends an engine from another station to Foster City within 2 minutes. This way there is a unit in service in our community at all times.
Boundary drops enhance the service levels for residents in all of the participating cities by ensuring that the closest fire engine and ambulance is dispatched to every incident, regardless of local fire agency boundaries. It is a reciprocal arrangement in which Foster City responds to other jurisdictions and other jurisdictions respond here. For instance, it is not unusual for engines and trucks from Foster City, San Mateo, Burlingame and Belmont to all work together on a call for the good of our citizens.
©2017 City of Foster City
City Hall - 610 Foster City Blvd.
Foster City, CA 94404