By Alex Lippa
---- — The Hampstead Fire Department will have a new way answer emergency calls. The fire department reached an agreement with the Londonderry Fire Department to provide around-the-clock dispatch for the department, starting in July.
Londonderry fire Chief Darren O’Brien said Hampstead will pay $140,000 for the three-years-plus contract.
“Back in October, I got word that Hampstead was seeking to redo their dispatch contract,” O’Brien said. “We thought that could be a good fit for us.”
Hampstead selectmen approved the contract last week. O’Brien planned to present the contract to the Londonderry Town Council last night.
The Derry Fire Department previously provided the dispatch for Hampstead. The new contract will last through December 2017.
“It all came down to cost,” Hampstead fire Chief Michael Carrier said. “Including infrastructure, we probably saved about $50,000 by going to Londonderry.”
Carrier said the department opted out of its contract with Derry with two years remaining.
O’Brien said once he learned of that, he approached Carrier to offer Londonderry’s services.
“I sought out (Carrier) and had numerous discussions with him,” O’Brien said. “We’re looking for different avenues which can have financial benefits where we can provide a professional service.”
O’Brien said this will be the first agency that Londonderry will provide dispatch to other than its own. The money the contract generates will go into the town’s general operating fund.
“This is strictly revenue gaining,” O’Brien said. “There is no additional impact or cost to the department or town.”
The Londonderry Town Council was scheduled to consider the contract Monday evening, but O’Brien was ill so the discussion was delayed.
Police Chief Joseph Beaudoin said he was hoping the town’s police and fire dispatches could be done from the same town. Rockingham County Dispatch currently takes calls for Hampstead police.
“We would have much rather been tied up with the fire department,” Beaudoin said. “It would have been a plus-plus us, but I totally understood why they did it.”
Hampstead spoke with Plaistow about providing dispatch service to both departments, but those talks eventually fell apart.
“For us, it’s off the table right now,” Beaudoin said.
But he didn’t rule it out in the future.
“We won’t rule out looking at it again in three or five months,” he said.
But Carrier said it didn’t matter to him if the police department is separate.
“We are two separate entities,” he said. “I just want to provide excellent service in a cost effective way.”
Moving the police dispatch to Londonderry wouldn’t have worked out logistically, according to Beaudoin.
“It needed to be a surrounding community,” he said. “Plaistow is a mutual aid town for us; if anything, we would have chosen them.”
The location of the dispatch didn’t worry Carrier.
“It has no relevance at all,” he said. “It falls along the same line as communities who use Rockingham County’s services.”
Beaudoin said his department is pleased with Rockingham County’s services, but possible user fees worry him.
“If they start charging $9,000 or $10,000 for fees, we may look into it,” he said.