Earlier this week, the Denison Fire Department trained fire fighters and other first responders in its new mobile communications center, which will be used to better coordinate responses during emergency situation.

Earlier this week, the Denison Fire Department trained fire fighters and other first responders in its new mobile communications center, which will be used to better coordinate responses during emergency situation.


The converted, 27-foot camper trailer will allow first responders to coordinate between different agencies during emergencies or other major calls, something that Assistant Fire Chief Bill Ray said has been a major focus since the terrorist attacks on 9/11. The communications center was funded through grants given by the Department of Homeland Security for the purpose of improving interoperability between various groups.


"Homeland Security came down and said we need to fix this so everyone can talk," said Ray, referring to recent moves nationwide to improve communication.


Ray said the fire department first purchased the trailer in 2007, but the process to bring it up to full operation has been a long-term project. "It took us a while to get all the components in here," said Ray, referring to the need for specialized mounts and cabinetry for the center. "You can’t just throw a TV in here."


The communications center comes equipped with a 6,500-watt generator, multiple computer displays, a printer and workspace for coordinators. The center can connect to Internet hot spots, giving responders access to maps, weather reports and other information vital to coordinating a large-scale effort.


The department has already put the center to use in recent months. The command center was used during the search for Enoch Dixon, a Pottsboro resident who went missing on Valentine’s Day, and a recent race at Waterloo Park. During the search for Dixon, Ray said the station allowed rescuers to quickly and efficiently grid off areas, reducing the chance of redundant searches.


Previously, the department used a SUV as a mobile station for commanders to work in. Ray said that method will still be used for short-term efforts, and the communication center will be reserved for efforts that are likely to last from eight hours to several days.


The communications center will be primarily be used in Grayson, Fannin and Cooke counties, but Ray said that it can be move anywhere it is needed. "If we had a tornado say in Durant, we’d definitely take it up there," said Ray. "We have no problems taking it where the need arises."


Ray said the center should soon be painted in with the colors and emblem of the Denison Fire Department, but it is operational.


"I think it is a great asset not only for the Denison Fire Department, but also a great asset for Grayson County, Fannin County, Cooke County and anyone who needs it in our region," said Ray.