Radio response boost to Australian bush fires

Radio response boost to Australian bush fires

26 June 2012

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 Australia -Firefighters battling bush blazes in Victoria are now better equipped to respond to incidents after more than 9,000 digital portable and mobile radios designed and manufactured by Tait Communications were commissioned in the Australian state.

The cutting-edge radios have been rolled out to more than 1,200 brigades in the Country Fire Authority (CFA), one of the world’s largest emergency-services organisations.

The CFA’s 56,000 members help protect 3.3 million Victorians and more than one million homes and properties.

The installation forms a key part of an upgrade of the critical state-wide radio system, which is being managed by CFA, Tait Communications and local partner AA Radio Services.

The project also represents one of the largest contracts of its kind for Tait Communications, a global leader in critical communications solutions for public-safety and utilities organisations. Tait was selected to provide P25 digital-capable radios as part of a US$29 million contract awarded in 2010.

P25 is an international open standard for interoperable digital two-way wireless communications. The standard, which is also used by New Zealand Police, allows for improved communications within and between agencies-especially emergency services.

Tait has incorporated significant innovations in the radios, including greater water protection and the ability to filter out background noise from helicopters, trucks, sirens, hoses and machinery.

The installation also paves the way for planned future enhancements of CFA’s communications, such as GPS location and crystal-clear digital audio.

Frank Owen, Managing Director of Tait Communications, said: “This project underlines our expertise in designing and delivering critical communication solutions for those operating in demanding environments and ensuring users are better able to protect both themselves and the public, and be more responsive and efficient.

“Commissioning the new mobile radios, on time and on budget, marks a significant milestone in our partnership with CFA.

“For the first time, a number of rural fire brigades in Victoria now have access to handheld portable radios for their critical communications, in addition to their vehicle-mounted mobile radios. This means that CFA volunteer firefighters are now better equipped to protect the communities they serve.”

He added: “We continue to work hand-in-hand with CFA staff and volunteers to ensure that every aspect of the upgrade meets the needs of the organisation as a whole and, critically, the men and women who operate in some of the most hazardous environments in the world every day.

“We’re focused entirely on delivering the outcomes that matter to CFA, equipping their firefighters to better protect the communities they serve and enabling them to carry out their work in greater safety and efficiency.”

Doug Booth, CFA Project Director, said: “This project is all about putting better communications technology into the hands of firefighters.

“From today, Tait’s digital-capable radios will mean our fire brigades are connected like never before, taking CFA’s field communications to a new and sophisticated level of operations.

“Furthermore, the radios will also allow CFA to communicate with other state emergency-response agencies as new digital networks become available, improving coordination of resources during large-scale incidents and disasters.”

As part of the wider project, Tait is also upgrading CFA’s incident-management network with its advanced TB9100 base stations, making the entire state-wide network digital-ready.

The solution also provides CFA with support services from Tait’s Melbourne-based facility, including specialised equipment maintenance to protect CFA’s investment in digital technology.

The Tait solution features genuine P25 open standards, meaning CFA has the flexibility to incorporate other vendors’ radio equipment into the overall Tait solution.

This multi-vendor interoperability means public-safety organisations like CFA can get the maximum value from their investment, because Tait open standards allow them to customise their systems perfectly, now and in the future, to best meet their needs.

The Tait P25 terminals support multiple modes of operation including analogue, P25 conventional and P25 trunked.

The Tait TB9100 base stations also support both analogue and digital operation, allowing critical communications interoperability with public-safety agencies that are yet to migrate to digital.

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