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Mid & West Wales Fire and Rescue Service

23rd March, 2015

“Simply, Multitone supply equipment that works, which means that I don’t have to worry.”

Nigel Williams, Head of Information & Communications Technology, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service

For all Fire and Rescue Services, (FRS), the ability to react effectively and efficiently to an incident is of paramount importance. Any delays in receiving the critical facts can cost more than just money; in some cases it can cost lives. As such, receiving the precise information needed in the shortest possible time is crucial.

By area, the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service is one of the largest in the UK, controlling 56 fire stations. To ensure its critical communications remained focused, dependable and relevant to the task, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service turned to specialist Multitone to upgrade its previous Station End Equipment (SEE) to the company’s Firecoder solution, ensuring all of the communications systems, supplying critical data, could interact seamlessly with each other. The SEE roll out was carried out in conjunction with a FRS station-wide LAN roll out, together opening up faster station mobilising and remote SEE diagnostics, configuration and upgrades.

To ensure that all hardware and software upgrades could take place, with minimal impact on the existing support system, took an exceptional level of planning on behalf of Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service and Multitone. The roll-out was carried out over a two month period, during February and March 2011. Delivery of the equipment was divided into four shipments to ensure full workforce utilisation whilst reducing the amount of storage required at the FRS HQ.

As part of the planning process training was given to all staff. All of the user manuals and documentation guides supplied have, in the words of Nigel Williams at Mid and West Wales Fire Authority, “Become living and evolving manuals that give significant assistance in driving efficiencies forward.”

Multitone has worked with all three Welsh Fire and Rescue Services over many years and assisted in the Welsh Government Interoperability Project. The project made use of the three existing command and control centres, whereby each independent centre would have a ‘buddy centre’ to fall back on in the event of unusual emergency situations.

To develop the appropriate infrastructure and operational practices, needed to manage such resilience, required the ultimate in collaboration between all equipment suppliers and the entire Welsh Fire Authority. As such the networked configuration adds resilience and minimises costs by making full use of existing command and control infrastructure. Should one Command and Control centre become overloaded or unavailable, the particular centre’s “buddy partner” could partially or completely take over the mobilising of the incapacitated centre’s fire stations. Mobilising commands are automatically re-routed via an authority wide common bearer.

Multitone’s role in this project was to supply two fully GD92 compatible central communication processors (CCP), the communications link between the CAD, the fire stations and officer paging, at each command and control centre. Two CCPs were installed for load sharing and resilience.

Each CCP was configured to route GD92 messages through to the command centre’s own fire stations, via existing multiple bearers, and additionally to mobilise the stations of its buddy, via PSTN, mobilising calls sent from a local client of the buddy’s CAD.

Freedom of Choice

The advantage of using the Multitone CCP is the creation of a demarcation point in the network, allowing free choice in the selection of GD92 CAD applications and station end equipment. Where a number of FRS collaborate there will frequently be differing mobilising communications equipment. The Multitone CCP is not proprietary and will interface to any true GD92 network component, thereby allowing all FRSs to collaborate without wholesale changes to their individual networks. The CCP is directly compatible with a number of CAD systems and SEEs and now links the 150 fire station and mobilising terminals spread throughout Wales.

Nigel Williams at Mid and West Wales Fire Authority adds, “Multitone has the in-house expertise to review software requirements and adapt it to cater for the specific needs of your fire service, whilst ensuring compatibility of CAD and Station End Equipment which may not be GD92 compliant.” In the case of the Welsh Interoperability Project SMS 2-way messaging for officer paging was viewed as an important aspect and therefore included. When asked why Mid and West Wales Fire Authority wanted to continue to work with Multitone, their ICT representative replied “Simply Multitone supply equipment that works, which means that I don’t have to worry.

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Mid & West Wales Fire and Rescue Service