Central Ohio's Metropolitan Emergency Communications Consortium (MECC) emergency-services dispatch center and the Licking County 911 center will update their equipment with a federal grant they obtained jointly.

Central Ohio's Metropolitan Emergency Communications Consortium (MECC) emergency-services dispatch center and the Licking County 911 center will update their equipment with a federal grant they obtained jointly.

MECC chief Mike Grossman said the two dispatching centers are installing a new computer-aided dispatch system with a $798,896 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's 2011 Assistance to Firefighters grant program.

The MECC, which announced Feb. 17 that it and the Licking County 911 center had secured the grant, will request reimbursement from FEMA as expenses come in, Grossman said.

The 20-percent match required - $199,724 - will be split between Licking County and the MECC, which includes fire departments in Jefferson, Mifflin, Plain, Truro and Violet townships and the city of Whitehall.

The equipment will link the dispatching centers, allowing dispatchers to see all emergency calls in a coverage area that spans 933 square miles and includes 30 townships, nine cities and 24 fire departments.

"We'll be interconnected to back each other up," said Licking County commissioner Tim Bubb.

Grossman said the dispatching centers will be able to see calls simultaneously. He said the system could reduce response times because dispatchers will be able to immediately see which fire departments have equipment available.

Bubb and Grossman said the current dispatching systems are old and need replaced, which is why the centers jointly applied for the grant.

The new dispatching system should be installed in both centers before the end of this year.

The MECC was formed in 2004 to share emergency resources and dispatch emergency calls from a center in Mifflin Township.

The Licking County 911 center this year will dispatch emergency calls for all county fire departments and all emergency calls for the sheriff's office.

Bubb said the 911 center and sheriff's office are combining dispatching systems to save money. The joint 911 center will be at 199 E. Main St. in Newark, in a former state corrections facility, the Licking-Muskingum Community Correction Center.

Bubb said the building is being renovated and the new 911 center should open late this year.