When the fireground radio equipment of West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (West Sussex FRS) had to be replaced, they wanted to take advantage of technological developments to improve the safety of their firefighters and the efficiency of their operations. Moreover, they wished to invest in a digital communications solution that would provide interoperability with adjacent Fire Rescue Services, and support their future choice of Breathing Apparatus (BA).
After a careful selection process, West Sussex FRS found that a solution from Tait Communications and partner Affini Technology Limited – a pre-qualified supplier to the Crown Commercial Services and supplier of the Tait Fireground Solution – best suited their needs.
Taking the entire fireground into account
Tait and Affini worked together with West Sussex FRS to gain a holistic perspective of the entire fireground, carefully considering each operational task, including BA Wearers, Entry Control, Officers, and Incident Command Unit vehicles. This allowed Tait and Affini to develop a specialized solution that addresses the specific challenges faced by each individual on the fireground.
One key requirement was to simplify and standardize the radios, batteries, and user experience across the fireground – keep it simple!
Safety, efficiency, and interoperability
The solution was delivered to a very high standard by Affini. They supplied standard, non-ATEX radios for Incident Command Officers and Entry Control Officers (ECOs) and Intrinsically Safe (IS) ATEX-rated radios and accessories for firefighters to address both safety and operational requirements.
The radios are color-coded so users can be confident they have the right device for their role: blue IS radios and accessories for firefighters and red ones for Command Officers and ECOs.
The digital radios comply with the UK FRS National Operational Guidance configuration and are backward compatible with analog radios used by neighboring Fire Rescue Services to ensure essential interoperability.
The right equipment for every firefighter
To provide BA wearers with increased protection in hazardous environments, high-powered IS radios were chosen to deliver enhanced range and clear, reliable audio, with glove-friendly IS Remote Speaker Microphones (RSM) providing easy access to comms in low visibility.
IS radios approved for use in explosive atmospheres support staff working in environments containing volatile gases. Specialised Ballistic Headsets were provided to Marauding Terror Attack (MTA) officers.
Entry Control received high-powered red non-ATEX radios and large glove-friendly red RSMs with a lightweight, noise-cancelling headset, significantly improving communications with Breathing Apparatus wearers. Officers also use the red non-ATEX radios with Bluetooth® RSMs and earpieces for discreet communications. Both BA Wearers and Officers use the same ATEX battery, simplifying the battery choice on the fireground, which is a huge benefit to firefighters.
If changes need to be made to radios, all radio configurations are securely managed with the Tait EnableFleet cloud device management tool, providing complete control over the West Sussex FRS fleet of radios.
Tait Unified Vehicle: Connecting the entire fireground
To keep everyone on the fireground safe and connected, Incident Command Unit vehicles were equipped with fixed repeaters to extend range and coverage, while Tait Unified Vehicle, a mobile communications platform that integrates multiple networks, application processing, and voice recording, provides enhanced connectivity.
Access to analog and digital radio networks connects firefighters to the control room, while LTE offers broadband data, and connectivity in areas beyond radio networks. Tait Unified Vehicle also offers WiFi and Bluetooth® connectivity to enable devices to connect in and around the vehicle.
The on-board voice recorder app records and stores all voice communications for training or incident investigation purposes, and the application builder enables custom applications to enhance efficiency, providing West Sussex FRS with options for future digitized operations.