We know how it goes; you are in desperate need of new dispatch furniture. Your furniture might feel looks like it belongs in the Titanic museum. You have had it forever. It is literally falling apart. You cannot get new parts for it, and it does not fit the new technology that you are putting on it. So, you have a monitor here, a monitor there, or maybe even a computer in your leg space. Heck, even the fire department has gone through four new rigs since the last time your center got new furniture! It is time!
So you've decided to buy, next, you will have all the furniture sales people come in, measure the room, look around and eventually leave you with a room design and a quote. You have done your research asking other agencies what dispatch furniture they got and more importantly, what they paid for it. Most of the quotes you receive are in the ball park for price.
Next, you take your drawings and quotes to the county commissioners or city council (aka, the money people) and some will say “you want how much for furniture?” others will say, “I can go to Ikea and get it for less" or they might even say "my cousin sells office furniture and it is a lot less expensive.”
You know that you need dispatch furniture NOT Ikea or office furniture. So, how do you explain why it is worth the extra cost?
First, consider that you need appropriate furniture for task at hand. Dispatching is one of the hardest jobs on for the human body. There are numerous recent studies showing that sitting all day is bad for you. Given the long shifts of dispatching, it is essential that Dispatchers be able to move throughout the day. No one Dispatcher is the same as the next and with shared workstations, adjustments between users is the key to proper health and ergonomics. Sit to stand workstations are and continue to be the industry norm for this very reason.
Second, remember that equipment is constantly changing in the 911 world. One day you have a great radio system, the next it is out of date and you can't get parts. Monitors sizes change too. You will have a hard time keeping up with these equipment trends with old out of date dispatch furniture. This is also where office furniture does not cut it. Office furniture is not designed for 6 monitors and 4 computers, let alone, all of the other equipment you have. This is usually a band-aid fix for a few years.
Third, the durability of 911 dispatch furniture is a key component in justifying the additional cost. You will need your new furniture to last. The truth is, we all want value when we make a purchase. Durable furniture that is designed to last will provide you and your taxpayers with the best value. Remember, value is different than cost.
Fourth, along with durability is warranty. None of the typical office furniture companies will warranty their product for 24/7 use. That does you, the user no good. All 24/7 dispatch furniture will come with a warranty. Some are good and some are not so good. You will have to read all the details. Look out for terminology; buyouts, OEM warranty and lifetime of the product. These are all warnings that you have to read the fine print. When in doubt, ask the vendor to thoroughly explain their warranty.
Fifth, show up prepared. Make sure the furniture sales person has given you all the designs and renderings. Get multiple quotes and check to see if your agency is on state contract or some other contract which gives you the best pricing.
Regardless of how you choose to purchase your furniture, justifying the cost can sometimes be difficult. But, with a little bit of research and preparedness on your part, you can be thoroughly prepared to explain why this purchase decision will be a worthwhile investment for your dispatch center and more importantly to the people who are using it.