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The Service is now receiving 999 calls and mobilising fire appliances using a state-of-the-art mobilising system recently installed in its new control room facility.
Jean Cole, who led the project, stated that she and her team had worked tirelessly over the last 15 months to procure and install the new system. This phase of the project, known as ‘Fires 1’, provides the Service with a new integrated communications and control system, mobilising system, station end equipment and mobile data terminals.
The system has an EISEC (Enhanced Information System for Emergency Calls) feature which enables control room staff to quickly identify the location of the person placing the emergency call. It also has an integrated geographical information system and premises level gazetteer all of which make it quicker and easier to locate incidents. The new system also has an Automatic Resource Location feature which enables Control room staff to identify the location of the nearest appropriate fire appliance or Officer. “All of this enables the Service to respond very quickly to calls for assistance which will in turn enhance the safety of the community” said Jean.
The new mobile data terminals on the fire appliances mean that firefighters responding to incidents have timely access to accurate risk information about the incident or premises to which they are responding. Jean pointed out that “this information makes a significant contribution to enhancing the safety of our crews and members of the public”.
The new system also makes increased use of mobile data to pass messages between the control room and fire crews using the Airwave network. “This has several advantages over the traditional voice message” said Jean, “it is quicker and easier to pass messages in this way because there is less scope for misunderstandings arising from background noise and other distractions.” She went on to add that “this also makes more efficient use of the Airwave network”.
The new system was made possible by grant funding recently provided to fire and rescue services in England by the Department for Communities and Local Government. The funding was provided following the closure of the national Fire Control Project in December 2010. A spokesperson from the Control Projects Support Programme, run by the National Resilience arm of the Chief Fire Officers Association, said, “This is an excellent example of what fire and rescue services can achieve in partnership with central government”.
Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service have offered to make available a wide range of information about this project in a bid to assist other fire and rescue services who are also in the process of replacing or updating their fire control rooms. CFOA National Resilience (CNR) will be the conduit for the release of this information.
In the next phase of the project, known as ‘Fires 2’ Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service will link their new mobilising system to the mobilising system in Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service. This will enable them to take emergency calls for each other and mobilise each other’s resources. In addition to providing increased resilience this will also enable the Services to cope with spikes in demand which are often caused by extreme weather events such as the widespread flooding which has affected all three counties in recent years.
Fire Minister Brandon Lewis MP said, ‘I’d like to congratulate Hereford and Worcester personnel on all the hard work they have put into completing phase one of their future control rooms project and the benefits this will provide. In sharing the lessons they have learnt from the project they will help other fire and rescue authorities who are also in the process of replacing or updating their fire control rooms. It is great to see fire and rescue authorities working together in this way. I am confident that together we will build increased national resilience through successful local plans and delivery’'