Phillip Thomas Keeps Marin Communicating

County public works employee strives to ensure that throughout Marin there is a sound communications infrastructure in place to handle any emergency.

“From the 911 Dispatch Center to the local fire and police stations, we build and manage the infrastructure that every Marinite depends on in the case of an emergency.”

— Phillip Thomas

As a member of the Communications Division of the Marin Department of Public Works, Phillip works to ensure that there is a sound communications infrastructure in place to handle any emergency for every Marinite. These efforts keep Marin connected, communicating and safe!


1. What department do you work in and what kind of work do you do?

I work in the Department of Public Works, Communications Division. We maintain the County's Emergency Services communications – from the 911 Dispatch Center to the local fire stations and police departments. We also provide and maintain video surveillance to monitor the jail, courts, juvenile services and to keep watch on high-crime areas and threatening flood zones.

2. Is your schedule 9 to 5? What if there is an emergency?

The Department is open from 7 a.m. (my schedule starts at 7:30) to 4:30 p.m., but there is a technician “on call” at all times, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. I’m proud to say that we have a one-hour response time for emergency call-outs when a system malfunctions.

3. What are some of the typical problems you fix?

We fix fire station alerting systems so the stations are able to respond to emergency calls, we restore on-site communication equipment for police stations so that calls can go through dispatch, and we work with the county park services to ensure that Marinites hiking and biking in our open spaces will be able to get help in the event of an emergency.

4. What have been some of the most rewarding experiences you’ve had on the job?

We were out one afternoon installing video surveillance under an overpass frequented by Marin residents, and several individuals stopped to thank us for our work. It is incredibly rewarding to know that the work we do is keeping my community safe. Every day I feel good about the work that we do. 

5. What would happen if your department were downsized or eliminated?

I worry about the effect of downsizing as it relates to the safety of our community. If our department were to be cut any leaner, there could be a dramatic increase in the response times for emergency issues, and the daily maintenance that keeps all of the agencies communicating would go by the wayside and undoubtedly result in safety problems down the road.

Phillip Thomas is also the president on the Marin Association of Public Employees.

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Rico August 01, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Another question for Phillip, Are you happy with the new digital trunked 900 Mhz radio system (MERA) ? And with the addition of part of the 800 MHz band freed up by standard television going to higher frequency digital, are you going to start using the 800 MHz band too, do you really need the additional bandwidth ?


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