Australia — The Victorian government will spend $24.6 million to provide 6000 GPS-enabled radios to firefighters in the state.
The government awarded the contract to a consortium including Telstra, Tait Communications and AA Radio Communications. Telstra previously won a contract to build and maintain new communications infrastructure for the Country Fire Authority (CFA) in Victoria.
The radios, which replace the current 19-year-old fleet, will be installed in firefighting vehicles, aircraft, fire towers, work centres and incident control centres throughout Victoria.
A GPS chip in each radio will allow incident managers to track vehicles and firefighters in real time for enhanced operations, logistics and safety.
The radios also enable greater collaboration among different groups of emergency responders because they are compatible with the systems of CFA, State Emergency Service (SES) and neighbouring states. That addresses in part a recommendation of the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission to standardise ICT systems within DEPI and the CFA.
The first two thousand radios are expected to be installed over the next six months, with the rest coming in ahead of the 2014/2015 fire season. The Department of Primary Industries and Environment is leading the radio replacement project.
Communications are a crucial part of effective bushfire response, said Ryan Smith, Victorian minister for environment and climate change. Upgrading communications infrastructure enhances the capability of our emergency services to protect communities and firefighting personnel from bushfire.
The project is funded under the Victorian governments $338.7 million budget for land and fire management in the 2013-14 financial year.
Im proud of the progress the Coalition Government has made in preparing the state for bushfires. There has been a lot of hard work done in response to the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, including projects such as this, Smith added