Burr sponsors bipartisan legislation to recategorize 911 call takers, dispatchers

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) on April 15 proposed a bipartisan bill to categorize public safety telecommunicators as a protective service occupation under the Standard Occupational Classification System (SOC), a federal statistical standard used by federal agencies to classify workers into occupational categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating or disseminating data.  

Sen. Burr sponsored the 911 SAVES Act, S. 1175, with cosponsor U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) to better reflect the life-saving work 911 telecommunicators and dispatchers perform each day, according to his office. 

The bill has been referred for consideration to the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where the same-named S. 1015, originally introduced by Sen. Burr in April 2019, stalled during the 116th Congress.

“This week, we recognize the life-saving work of 911 dispatchers across North Carolina and the country,” Sen. Burr said last week during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. “As the co-chair of the Congressional Next Generation 911 Caucus, I’m proud to work with Senator Klobuchar on this bipartisan initiative to reclassify the role of emergency dispatchers to better reflect their important responsibilities and the difference they make daily.”

Currently, the SOC system categorizes 911 call takers and dispatchers as “Office and Administrative Support Occupations,” which also includes secretaries, office clerks and taxi cab dispatchers, according to information provided by Sen. Burr’s staff.

If enacted, S. 1175 would recognize these dispatchers as “Protective Service Occupations,” a category that more aptly includes lifeguards, firefighters and Transportation Security Administration baggage screeners, among others, the information says.