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Barnstable County

Department Profile


Barnstable County Control is the Mutual Aid Center............................. located at the Barnstable County Sheriff's Department Communicatrions Center................


Barnstable County Control
Bldg 3132, 3132 Richardson Road
Buzzards Bay, MA  02542
Run Cards
Emergency   911
Emergency   508-563-4200
Business       508-563-4200
FAX              508-563-4280
Dispatch       508-563-4200  
Fire Alarm    KCB 781          MORE   See below
800 Talk       38032                MORE   See below
Radio            33.70   114.8    
MORE   See below
Dispatch for 10 Fire Depts                   See below  

Sheriff James Cummings

Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Barnstable County
Regional Communications

Established 1930's
1 COMM Center     1 Apparatus
38 Fulltime Disp - 12 Part time
Units S-39

Area             394 Square Miles
Population    250,000  (2010)
Density         635 per sq mile

FD Disp  26,681
CMED    48,539
Total       75,000+
 (2018 stats)

Radio Room
Fire Academy

0 Engines
0 Ladder
0 Brush
0 Ambs
0 Cars
1 Misc


Barnstable County OPS-1  C4
Barnstable County OPS-2  C6
Barnstable County OPS-3  C8

Leadership - Officers:

Chief Deputy Emergency Communications Thomas Ashe    (2016)
Asst Chief Deputy James Fletcher

Communication Officers
Lieutenant John Drew
Sgt Matt Rossi
Sgt Lisa Havens
Sgt John Ahern
Sgt Aaron Sonnabend
Sgt Josh Alper
Sgt Katie Miller
Sgt Shannon Brookshire
Sgt Alison Whitner
Sgt Zach Hallet
Sgt James Thomas (Training Officer)

Email Contact
General Info:
Chief Deputy Emergency Communications Thomas Ashe    tashe@bsheriff.net

Phone Directory
-4200   General Business line
-4201   Bourne/Orleans Position
-4202   Call Taker Position
-4203   Harwich/Wellfleet Poition
-4204   County Position
-4205   Brewster/Mashpee Poition
-4206   Dennis/JBCC Position
-4207   CMED Position
-4208   Position 8
-4209   Office
-4210   Admin
-4280   FAX

Total Personnel:

(1)     Chief Deputy of Emergency Communications
(1)     Asst Chief Deputy
(1)     Lieutenant
(9)     Dispatch Sergeants
(1)     Training Sergeant
(13)   Fulltime Dispatchers
(2)     Call takers in training    (2019)
(12)   Part Time (Per Diem)    CMED Dispatchers

The Staffing on Days (0730-1530) and Evenings (1530-2330) is (7) Dispatchers
   1 - County / Police       BARNSTABLE / WEST BARNSTABLE
   2 - Barnstable CMED  (usually a part-time employee position)
   3 - 911 Call Taker        Dedicated Call Taker
   4 - Dispatcher               BOURNE / ORLEANS
   5 - Dispatcher               HARWICH / WELLFLEET
   6 - Dispatcher               BREWSTER / MASHPEE
   7 - Dispatcher               DENNIS / JOINT BASE CAPE COD

The Staffing on Midnights (2330-0730)  is (6) Dispatchers
   1 - County / Police       BARNSTABLE / WEST BARNSTABLE
   2 - Barnstable CMED  (usually a part-time employee position)
   3 - Dispatcher               BOURNE / ORLEANS
   4 - Dispatcher               HARWICH / WELLFLEET
   5 - Dispatcher               BREWSTER / MASHPEE
   6 - Dispatcher               DENNIS / JOINT BASE CAPE COD
         (The 911 Call Taker position is unstaffed and shared by all in the room)

There is usually a Sergeant on duty each shift and they typically rotate around the room working various positions, as do other dispatchers on a rotating basis.


Communications Center:
The Barnstable County Emergency Communications Center is operated by the Barnstable County Sheriff's Department / Barnstable County Sheriff's Office (BSO). The communication center is located at the Joint Base Cape Cod Fire Headquarters (formerly Massachusetts Military Reservation Fire Station) in Bourne.

The communications center overlooks the runways at the base. There are (8) console positions in the room, each having multiple computer monitors for Radio controls, E911, CAD, Mapping, and Internet access. The center went on line in July 11, 2007.  Prior to that, the BSO dispatch center was located in Barnstable village, at the County Complex, next to the county jail for many year.

The radio room is typically staffed by a combination of fulltime and part-time personnel. Fulltime personnel are trained to work any position in the room, while some of the part-time personnel are trained on specific consoles, but not all.

Each dispatching position is typically responsible for two assigned primary departments, but is also usually paired with another nearby console to back each other up, so dispatchers are listening to at least 4 departments at any given time. The consoles are arranged in the room in a manner that enables backup and working together when situations require.

The PRIMARY position is known as "County."  The County dispatcher is responsible for many tasks including answering the main business line and a variety of other phone lines. This dispatcher listens to the "Fire Mutual Aid Dispatch" channel and is responsible for all mutual aid matters including maintaining the apparatus status (in service/out of service) in the CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch program) and the radio room wall map, managing all requests for mutual aid, dispatching run card assignments, making decisions on move-ups, assigning operations "OPS" channels, and communicating with other countu's mutual aid centers and the state MEMA (Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency) radio system which coordinates major statewide incidents.

The Mutual Aid Center for Barnstable County. BSO took over the mutual aid responsibility on November 3, 1991. (Mutual Aid management was previously the responsibility of the Yarmouth Fire Department, KCD 246 / KNCS 289). The position conducts the daily radio test, roll call, apparatus status check, seasonal fire weather report, and a monthly test of mutual aid tones (on the first Sunday of the month) at approximately 0915 hours daily. Interestingly, while Yarmouth was the former mutual aid center, the daily radio test was historically conducted by the Hyannis Fire Department - KCD 454, until the mutual aid center went to BSO in 1991. 

The "County" position also handles sheriff's department and other police communications, including General Broad Casts (GBCs) with all agencies and General Information (GIs) broadcasts. K-9 responses, Barnstable County Investigators (BCI) responses, and much more.

At one time, BSO was one of the only police agencies in the County that had the NCIC and RMV computer system Teletype machine and then computer. At one time, departments relied on BSO to run license plates, background checks, criminal history records, and other services that no other agency could do.  Much of this work can now be done from cruisers on the street, but not long ago it was a major service provided by BSO.

The "County" position has historically always dispatched the first two fire departments dispatched by the Sheriff's Department BARNSTABLE FIRE / WEST BARNSTABLE FIRE which have been dispatched by BSO since the very early days of the radio room in Barnstable village going back to the 1930s and 1940s.

The "County" position is located next to, and backs up two other console positions as needed:

The "CMED" position is the second oldest position in the room, dating back to the mid 1970s when Cape Cod became the first area in Massachusetts to implement Advanced Life Support (ALS) provided by Paramedics. At the time, it was vital that paramedics be in direct contact with doctors and nurses at the local hospital within the Cape & Islands EMS System (Cape Cod Hospital Hyannis, Falmouth Hospital, Tobey Hospital Wareham, and Vineyard Hospital on Martha's Vineyard). A complex UHF "duplex" radio system with repeater sites, a few radio "patch" channels, phone circuits, and hospital base stations was tied together by the CMED operator (dispatcher) based on the "priority" (1=Life Threatening, 2=Potential life threat, or 3=minor) of patients.

While much has changed relative to ALS protocols and communications technology, the system continues to operate much as it has for over 40 years. The position is staffed by the group of part-time personnel, but may be monitored by any other position in the room if necessary.

One of the first of the "new" fire departments that joined the BSO while still in Barnstable village was the Bourne Fire Department in 1996. This was a significant change for BSO which led to the much more fire based communications center of today. Orleans FD was the third "new" department, coming on board about 2001. The BOURNE/ORLEANS position backs up to the COUNTY position and serves as the "wing man" for that position.

The Mashpee Fire Department was the second "new" Fire Department to come to BSO in 1998 while still in Barnstable village. Brewster Fire Department joined BSO on April 10, 2005.

Upon moving into the Mass Military Reservation (Otis) Fire Station on July 11, 2007, BSO assumed dispatching for "MMR" at that time (now Joint Base). Dennis Fire came along in 2009.

The latest departments to join BSO were Wellfleet Fire in 2012 and Harwich Fire in 2013.
This position is also close to COUNTY and is backed up by County.  The position is also next to the 911 Call Taker position and provides support for that position.

On The Radio:
The Barnstable County Emergency Communications Center operates many radio channels and frequencies for the various services and agencies it provides.

Historically, the Barnstable County Fire Network utilized 33.70 Mhz for all mutual aid communications. In about 1998, the Massachusetts State Police 800 Mhz Trunking System was adopted for use by all the Cape Cod Fire Departments and most of the Police Departments. The system is complex to explain, but essentially every agency has its own "Talk Group" (or channel for simplicity) that they operate on.  Listed here as TG and the assigned number (that can be used when programming a scanner).  Additionally there are a number of regional "OPS" channels and shared channels that may be assigned by BSO when needed.

Police departments historically utilized High Band channels in the 155 Mhz range. Today, many are on the 800 trunking system and some utilize conventional 800 Mhz channels.

Call Signs were historically used by all fire and police departments as Identifiers.  During the 1990s, the use of Department names on the radio became more common.  Call signs are sometimes used, but not generally during dispatch of calls.

KCA 376     - TG 38800  - POLICE - Barnstable Sheriff's Dept Ch. 1 GBC, GI
                    - TG 38736  - POLICE - Barnstable Sheriff's Dept BCI, K9

KCB 781     - TG 38032   - FIRE - Barnstable County Control Mutual Aid Channel (1994)
                    - TG 28064   - OPS 1 (C4) - Operations Channel 1
                    - TG 37968   - OPS 2 (C6) - Operations Channel 2
                    - TG 38000   - OPS 3 (C8) - Operations Channel 3
                    - TG 37936   - FD ADMIN - Fire Administration Use
                    - TG 37392   - FD EMS      - May be used for EMS Incidents

KCB 781     - TG 37264   - BARNSTABLE FIRE Dispatch              (Original) 1
KNAW 393 - TG 37296   - BOURNE FIRE Dispatch                             (1996) 3
WQON 307 - TG 37328   - BREWSTER FIRE Dispatch                        (2005) 6
WQGK 516 - TG 37488   - DENNIS FIRE Dispatch                               (2009) 8
WQMA 607 - TG 37884  - HARWICH FIRE Dispatch                           (2013) 10
"Joint Base" - TG 37904  - JOINT BASE CAPE COD FD Dispatch       (2007) 7
KCF 574      - TG 37648  - MASHPEE FIRE Dispatch                           (1998) 4
WQOP 426  - TG 37680  - ORLEANS FIRE Dispatch                            (2001) 5
WQBB 922  - TG 37808  - WELLFLEET FIRE Dispatch                        (2012) 9
WQDR 782  - TG 37840   - WEST BARNSTABLE FIRE Dispatch   (Original) 2

KAG 419                             BARNSTABLE CMED
                     - 463.0250    - Barnstable CMED Ch 2 narrow (Patch)
                     - 463.0500    - Barnstable CMED Ch 3 narrow (Patch)
                     - 463.0750    - Barnstable CMED Ch 4 CALLING
                     - 463.1500    - Barnstable CMED Ch 7 narrow (Patch)
                     - 463.1875    - Barnstable CMED Ch 8 - 2  (Patch)

KCB 739      -                    - BSO on the Cape Cod National Seashore Channel


Many fire departments still either utilize their low band 33 Mhz radio frequency or newer 400 mhz frequencies to "simulcast" the 800 mhz "Talk Group" which enables personnel to wear traditional pagers or smaller radios for recall purposes.  Some operate two way capability.

Barnstable County and Plymouth County also have the ability to "patch" radio Ops channels together when units from one county are operating in the other.  This is done at the County Control centers.

Barnstable County had initially served as the Massachusetts District 1 (SE Mass) Regional Hazardous Materials Dispatch Center from the early 1990s until about 2010 when that role was transferred to the Norfolk County Control Center.

Barnstable County Sheriff's Department also has a mobile Communications / Command Post vehicle known as S-39.  It is located at the JBCC HQ as well.  It is available for pre-planned major events including fireworks and other large scale public events.  It may also be called to police or fire scenes to provide support for regional agencies.

E911 on Cape Cod began in 1994 with some lower Cape Departments (Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro, and Provincetown). In 1995, BSO became a PSAP for a number of communities (Falmouth, Mashpee, Chatham) and a Secondary for (Bourne, Barnstable, West Barnstable, Brewster). At various points, additional PSAP and Secondary 911 responsibilities came to BSO.  BSO is also the Backup for Dukes County (Martha's Vineyard).

The "NEXTGEN 911" technology went into effect in 2017-18. The technology enables Barnstable Sheriff's Office and other local PSAPs to receive "Wireless 911" calls within their area directly. Previously, those calls went first to the State Police, then to the local PSAP, and sometime then on to the local Secondary before dispatched.  It was inefficient and frustrating for callers who sometime had to repeat information multiple times. This increased the volume of duplicate 911 calls that come in to the agency, many of which were previously screened out by the MSP.

FALMOUTH - Fire and Police
MASHPEE - Fire and Police
BREWSTER - Fire and Police
HARWICH - Fire and Police
CHATHAM - Fire and Police
ORLEANS - Fire and Police
WELLFLEET - Fire and Police


BARNSTABLE Police Department
DUKES COUNTY - Fire and Police
NANTUCKET - Fire and Police

BARNSTABLE Police is Backup for BSO


Updated April 11, 2019  


Communications S-39
2001 Ford F650 / Wolf Coach
Stationed at Joint Base Cape Cod


Console Positions include
multiple monitors, phones, and radios

The Mutual Aid Map
magnetic tags representing all major fire and EMS apparatus
that can be moved to represent their current status or movement.

The County Position 

Bourne/Orleans to left, Harwich/Wellfleet in distance, County on right.