The New Zealand Fire Service (NZFS) has 436 fire stations and 800 appliances throughout the country. It employs more than 1,600 firefighters with an additional 8,400 volunteer and part-time firefighters. The Fire Service attends approximately 65,000 incidents annually. This includes fires, motor accidents and chemical emergencies.
The NZFS decided to upgrade mobile communications in fire appliances and Hazmat/Command vehicles, as they needed to engage communications specialists with a sound understanding and knowledge of the fire service’s complex needs. Effective mobile communications was needed for a nationwide fire service. It was crucial the system was reliable, easy to use and interoperable with other agencies. The challenge was to replace the older Tait mobiles fitted with custom control heads in NZFS appliances, and to also upgrade the Hazmat/Command vehicles with new mobile radio technology. The Tait TM8250 conventional mobile proved to be the ideal solution for both applications.
Tait provided the NZFS with TM8250 conventional mobile radios. NZFS Telecommunications Consultant Grahame Love says, “We were looking for an off-the-shelf product with all the same functionality and ease of use as our current communications solution within fire appliances. We found that with the TM8250 – interfaced with a touch screen developed by Steelcom and Data Over Radio.
The TM8250 and touch screen solution means firefighters can continue sending status messages at the push of a button. Staff retraining can be minimized due to the similar interface used, and this means less disruption and more communications efficiency, This new Tait solution was gradually rolled out into NZFS fire appliances as required after the testing and field trials were complete.
Six TM8250 mobiles will also be installed in each NZFS Hazmat/Command vehicle. These are full mobile command centers developed by NZFS and built by Steelcom, that are deployed at major incidents.
The six radios operating on different frequencies mean command vehicle operators can communicate with various agencies such as police and ambulance services, via the mobile radio network as well as landline telephone and cell phone networks.
“One of the major advantages of the TM8250s is the high channel capacity – meaning there’s now no need to re-programme radios to new channels when moving between regions,” Mr Love says. The NZFS are satisfied with the solution.
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