When it comes to the public fire brigades’ services, the equipment used is generally governed by a set of national regulatory and operational requirements that vary slightly between countries. However, it’s also important that the private fire crews within airports, ports, oil and gas and petrochemical installations also conform to fire safety guidelines within their specific industries.
Among these essential safety measures that must be adhered, is ensuring that the communication tools used are not only suitable for the extreme conditions – but can also be relied upon during critical situations.
appropriate fire appliances
This reliable communication is essential both for calls coming through to the fire station, to ensure that the appropriate fire appliances and crews are dispatched, through to the handheld devices that the firefighters use to communicate with their fire station when they’re heading to incident to ensure clear communication and optimized management of incidences.
UK FRSs deploy a mix of both TETRA and Digital Mobile Radios (DMR) digital radios and some analog radios. This mix might seem a little surprising at first, but Simon Bingham, Senior Account Manager at Radiocoms Systems, which has supplied radio equipment to almost all of the UK’s Fire & Rescue Services over many years, explains why this is.
emergency services communications network
Firefighters use Airwave TETRA network to talk to each other and to the dispatcher in the control center"
“What happens in a typical fireground set up is that once the 999 call is made and the incident is booked into the system, the call goes to the fire station and the appropriate fire appliances and crews are dispatched. The fire appliances are equipped with TETRA mobile radios, which use the UK’s nationwide Airwave emergency services communications network. On the way to the fire or incident, the firefighters use the Airwave TETRA network to talk to each other and to the dispatcher in the command and control center and to collect information on the incident on the way to the fire,” explains Simon.
However, once the firefighters are at the scene of the fire, they then rely on their hand portable two-way radios while managing the task at hand. It’s at this stage that having durable and fall-proof solutions is most essential.
extremely time critical situations
“In a typical house fire, you’ll have a team outside damping down the fire, spraying water and so on, and breathing apparatus (BA) teams working in pairs, who are counted in and out of the building by the entry control officer. They use two separate radio channels: a BA channel and an incident channel. The National Operational Guidance (NOG) for the fire service provides a standardized channel plan,” says Simon.
All of these communication solutions have to work together seamlessly for the firefighters to work safely and efficiently during the extremely time critical situations their job entails.