BATAVIA — Frank Riccobono has had a long, versatile career in emergency services. That career continues with his recent appointment as director of emergency communications at the Genesee County Emergency Services Dispatch Center.
Sheriff William Sheron Jr. announced the promotion Wednesday. Riccobono began his new post Oct. 29. Steve Sharpe, director for about 17 years, had resigned effective Sept. 3.
“Prior to Steve’s departure, I really didn’t have any plans to move up. I was enjoying the challenges of being the assistant director. It wasn’t until Steve left that I even thought about it. I spent several days talking it over with my wife before deciding to apply,” he said. “Being involved in any type of emergency services is not a 9-to-5, 40-hour-a-week, Monday-through-Friday job. To be successful, you have to have a family that understands plans can change at a moment’s notice. The phone rings at all hours of the day and night — even while on vacation.” A director must have the personality needed to deal with immediate challenges.
“From equipment breakdown to staffing issues, to angry callers who were not satisfied with how they were treated by a dispatcher — you have to be able to change direction at any second,” he said. “My first week and a half has been, let’s just say, a little hectic. We have had to deal with some equipment issues, telephone issues along with an upgrade to our CAD system. I will say everyone has been very supportive and understanding. I have had many current and former coworkers reach out and congratulate me — many from the various fire and EMS agencies, along with our law enforcement partners. It has been very humbling for me.”
Riccobono has over 31 years of experience in Genesee County emergency dispatching services. He began his dispatching career with the city of Batavia Police Department in 1991, and made the transition to the Genesee County consolidated dispatch center in 2008. In 2019, he was appointed assistant director of emergency communications/operations. During his tenure, he has been awarded two commendations.
“Director Riccobono’s vast amount of emergency services experience is a very valuable asset to Genesee County,” said Sheron.
Riccobono said his public safety career goes back over 40 years.
“I started my public safety career with the Genesee County Auxiliary Police back in 1980. I have served as a town constable and a town court officer on the law enforcement end,” he said. “I also have more than 40 years in the town of Batavia Fire Department serving in almost every position, including fire chief, president and on the Board of Directors. I have served on the county Fire Advisory Board and was the chair for four years. I also served on the county E911 Board and many other committees.”
Before becoming a dispatcher, Riccobono said, he worked in two different highway departments for almost 10 years.
“All this experience, plus my 31 years of dispatching experience, has helped me to better understand the needs of all the agencies that we serve,” he said.
The operations of the Dispatch Center are his responsibility — from the development of policies and procedures, and the oversight of fiscal, operating, and supervisory functions.
“I serve as a liaison between the Emergency Dispatch Center and the emergency service providers, municipalities and other public agencies,” he said. “Planning, implementing, equipping, budgeting, staffing and maintaining the county’s public safety radio system all fall under my responsibilities. I report directly to the Enhanced 911 Operations Board for operational oversight and to the sheriff and undersheriff for administration and budget oversight.”
Another area of responsibility is street addressing for new construction, Riccobono said.
“With the exception of one town, we are responsible for providing street addresses. This is one area where we receive many questions as to why this falls under our jurisdiction. It is a simple answer,” he said. “Police/fire/EMS have to find you in an emergency. It is probably not a life-and-death situation if Amazon can’t find you. However, it certainly will be if the EMS folks can’t find you or are delayed because your house number is not in sequence with the rest of the road.”
The emergency communications directors said he was never told how many applicants there were for the job.
“I know there were some internal and some external. I interviewed with several members of the 911 board, twice. The first interview was about an hour and the second interview was about an hour and a half,” he said. “After the second interview, I was called back in for a few more questions. It was a very intense interview.”
As the assistant director at the time, how good of a chance did he think he had of becoming director?
“When I was promoted to assistant director, there were no plans for me to move up. Steve was younger than I was and he never spoke of leaving. My next move was going to be retirement,” Riccobono said. “When Steve left, I had to give it serious consideration. Sometimes you have to go where opportunity leads you. Anytime there is a vacancy, I think you have to try to find the best candidate to fill the spot. This is especially true in key leadership spots. While internal candidates may have an advantage, that is not always the case.”