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Fire-Rescue Department

Fire Dispatcher

The job of a fire dispatcher is often challenging, fast-paced, and no two days are alike.  When a 9-1-1 call comes in, it could be anything from a house on fire to a minor vehicle accident. Our dispatchers are the vital link between the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department and the residents and visitors in our communities who need help. 

Fire dispatchers operate some of the most advanced telecommunications equipment available today and receive extensive training in order to provide emergency medical instructions over the phone for situations like CPR or childbirth. 

Our dispatchers are truly the “first” first responders!

If you’re ready to begin a challenging yet rewarding career as a fire dispatcher, learn more about our application process.

photo of Fire Dispatcher at workJob Responsibilities

  • Answer incoming emergency and non-emergency calls
  • Evaluate and prioritize emergency responses
  • Provide lifesaving medical instructions
  • Dispatch fire and medical units
  • Keep incident records and fulfill resource requests
  • Assist with incident management
  • Monitor and communicate on multiple radio frequencies

Dispatcher I

While in the Academy:
Get paid to learn how to take 9-1-1 calls and give emergency medical instructions for the ninth largest city in the U.S.

Dispatcher II

While a Trainee:
After six months on the job, paired full time with a communications training officer.

Fire Dispatcher

Fully Qualified Dispatcher:
After completion of the full training program

Step Increases ~5% per year
Full-time dispatchers receive a merit increase each year they are in the same position.
*Includes 17.5% incentive for Emergency Medical Dispatch Certification

Career Advancement Opportunities

Dispatcher I and II are initial entry and training classifications. Fully qualified dispatchers will generally advance to fire dispatcher within the first 18 months of employment.

Beyond that, dispatchers can advance to:

  • Communications training officer (CTO)
  • Quality assurance specialist
  • Peer support team
  • Fire dispatch supervisor
  • Fire dispatch administrator


  • Three to four-day work week (dispatchers work 12-hour shifts)
  • Eleven paid holidays per year
  • Three weeks of annual leave
  • Ample opportunities for overtime (paid at one and a half times the hourly rate)
  • Incentive pay
    • 5% percent shift differential
    • 17.5% for emergency medical dispatch certification
    • $.70 per hour bilingual pay
    • $.90 per hour trainer pay
    • $2000 per year of tuition reimbursement
  • Excellent health and dental plans are available through a cafeteria-style flexible benefit package where each employee is allotted $974 per month.
  • 401k, 457b Supplemental Retirement Plans are available to all employees
  • Defined Benefit Pension through the San Diego City Employee’s Retirement system


Michael Barr

SDFD Dispatcher

On the Job

9-1-1 Dispatchers

Christine Doumbia

SDFD Dispatcher

On the Job

9-1-1 Dispatchers