Surrey's direct link to sea
With the launch of their joint emergency control centre last month, the Isle of Wight and Surrey Fire & Rescue Services are among first to show the innovative efficiency of localized public sector collaborations, says Cyfas Systems, which has supplied control room equipment for the project. It has resulted from the new localized approach of the Coalition Government, following its cancellation of the FiReControl and its network of regional control centres in 2010.
"Just before the Coalition came to power and threw the RCC directive out, control rooms contained ageing equipment which was often no longer supported and replacement parts were scarce", explains Simon Chandler, telecoms and technology systems manager at Surrey Fire & Rescue. "Continuing down this route was unacceptable – people's lives depend on these calls. Cyfas has been manufacturing specialist control room communication equipment for many years.
"We upgraded to their CX3000 Integrated Control Room System because it would help future-proof the control centre by providing additional capabilities and scalability. It enabled our operators to make, take and manage calls from both telephone and Airwave (radio) talk groups from a single touch screen."
Because Surrey Fire & Rescue's innovative direction was compatible with their Isle of Wight counterparts through a previous mobile data collaboration, the two joined forces.
"Each fire and rescue service has something to give, but they all need to upgrade their infrastructures", Mr Chandler continued. "The Government's recent release of funds to achieve this is the perfect opportunity to create what's needed both now and in the future."
In the control room, it was important that 999 calls were answered in strict order of arrival, regardless of their origin. The CX3000 system took care of this, enabling the operators to concentrate on speed of response rather than worry about balancing both geographical areas. But the technology still enables management to identify calls from both locations for analysis.
In the event of an incident, it gives the Fire & Rescue Service an opportunity to automatically route calls to individual operators dedicated to managing responses to larger scale emergencies.