About Your 911/Communications Center
Harford County 911 Center dispatchers coordinate resources for the public and the first responders answering the call for emergency assistance. Citizens of Harford County are protected by 12 volunteer fire companies. These dedicated men and women constantly train to maintain the highest standards of care and response available. Emergency response apparatus is maintained under strict state and local standards.
Harford County 911 Center is a fully enhanced system offering both the telephone number and location identification associated with the caller seeking help.
Our center covers the entire county, including the three incorporated municipalities of Aberdeen, Bel Air, and Havre de Grace, along with all outlying communities. Using the center's Priority Dispatch System, our dispatchers instruct the caller with a medical, fire or police emergency what to do until first responders arrive.
The center also dispatch calls for service from the Harford County Sheriff's Office, Aberdeen Police Department and the county's volunteer fire and emergency medical service system.
Begun in the 1950s, Harford County Central Alarm worked out of a small room at the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company in the county seat. Many of the men and women working dispatch back then worked alone and coordinated response with a ruler and a map.
As Harford County's population began to increase, a new emergency operations center was created at the county's public works complex in Forest Hill. It was staffed by two paid dispatchers per shift and a chief of operations. County funds were also provided for radio equipment and maintenance. Staffing was later increased to meet the growing demand for services.
Upgrades & expansion
In the early 1980s, planning began for the center to expand and upgrade its low-band radio equipment to a more modern UHF system. The new center would include the 911 answering point for Harford County and additional personnel were hired to meet the demands of a growing population.
A new 911 system was activated in 1984 and the changeover to a new operations center was completed the same year. Under a new chief of emergency operations, the facility became the Harford County Emergency Communications Center, part of the Administration Department's Division of Emergency Operations.
911 services were enhanced over subsequent years to include automatic location identification and additional computer technologies for siren systems, data transfer and alarm systems installed at the center. Staffing again was increased to include a deputy chief, four captains, four shift supervisors, and 16 public safety dispatchers.
A new Harford County Emergency Communications Center was completed in May 1998. Besides providing much-needed additional space, the center included the first-ever computer aided dispatch system for the fire and EMS service in Harford County. Until then, all calls for service were written on paper.
In 2004, the center converted its existing 911 telephone system to a computer-based system manufactured by Plant CML.
Public safety radio system
In 2005, aggressive work began on the implementation of an 800 MHz trunked public safety radio system, another first for Harford County. This system services all public safety providers within the county including the Aberdeen, Bel Air and Havre de Grace police departments and the Maryland State Police Barrack D with multiple levels of redundancy to ensure uninterrupted service to the citizen and public safety providers.
A new CAD system, which incorporates fire, EMS, hazmat, and police calls for service in one system, was implemented in April 2021.
As Harford County's population continues to grow, so does the demand for public safety. In 2014, the county opened a new, $50 million Emergency Operations Center on Ady Road. The two-story, 110,000-square-foot building houses a situation room; a large training room; a police, fire and EMS dispatch center; and and office for the Fire & EMS Association.