HERMISTON - The Hermiston Fire Department is negotiating a modification in its 9-1-1 dispatch service that would allow it to receive calls from outside the city limits from the county.

Hermiston Fire Chief Jim Stearns said his department is pleased with the city's dispatch service run by the Hermiston Police Department and will continue to use it for emergency calls placed within the city limits.

But when a caller who lives just outside of Hermiston dials 9-1-1, the call is answered in Pendleton, Stearns said. The dispatcher then must either try to transfer the call or take down the information and relay it to Hermiston dispatch.

"Either way there's a time delay," Stearns said. "We want to be dispatched by whoever takes the call. It's not that we're unhappy in any way with Hermiston."

Lt. Kathy Lieuallen of the Umatilla County Sheriff's Office told the county commissioners this week that while she didn't have a contract yet, she believed the Hermiston Fire Department would join county dispatch soon.

Commissioners accepted contracts this week with he Umatilla police and fire departments for county dispatch service and approved hiring another dispatcher. The county's computerized dispatch service was the reason for the change.

Stearns said the Hermiston Fire Department hasn't entered into negotiations about the cost of the additional dispatch service. He said once he has a clearer picture about the price, he plans on talking to the city about lowering the cost of its dispatch service since it would not be dispatching as many calls for the fire department as it does now.

"We'll go back to the city and see if we can negotiate," he said. "We want to pay proportionally for both services, so I don't anticipate it costing us any more at this time."

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