Tait Provides New Fireground Communications to U.K. Fire Agency
Thursday, March 05, 2020 | Comments

East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service (ESFRS) in the United Kingdom selected Tait Communications to provide a new safety critical fireground communications solution. Telent, Tait’s IT partner and a specialist in the effective operation of the U.K.’s critical national infrastructure, will supply and install the equipment.

Fireground radios provide a vital safety critical communication tool for local communications between firefighters and on-scene incident commanders. They are used by firefighters in breathing apparatus when operating hoses, scaling ladders and entering buildings. ESFRS’ radios are aging and require urgent replacement.

The solution, developed by operational teams at ESFRS working with Tait Communications in collaboration with telent, overcomes these challenges by providing better compatibility with firefighters’ breathing apparatus for improved voice and audio performance in digital mode. In addition, new audio accessories with large buttons are incorporated for easier use when wearing protective gloves, and an enhanced digital communications range allows multiple radios to be used together over both long and short distances. When the push-to-talk (PTT) button is pressed on the digital radio, it sounds an alert tone indicating to the firefighter to start talking, increasing usability and user confidence especially for breathing apparatus wearers in zero visibility, high-stress conditions.

Following successful simulated incident trials, telent will supply 350 Tait handheld digital radios to ESFRS. These will be a mix of ATEX units for use by firefighters and non-ATEX units for use by incident commanders, with both units sharing a common battery. Telent will provide ongoing support and maintenance of the radios.

“Crucially, this solution will enhance communications between firefighters on the ground, providing them with better protection and ensuring they can carry out their vital work safely,” said Richard Fowler, assistant director, operational support and resilience, ESFRS. “As the radio was designed specifically to meet the requirements of our fire service, it targets the key areas that needed to be addressed to improve our operational capabilities.”

The solution runs on predefined operational channels and uses a 4-watt (W) ATEX radio transmitter, a four-fold increase compared to typical analog devices, providing increased operational range. It has been developed to work with Dräger breathing apparatus, retaining the benefits of the lung demand valve (LDV) noise suppression while optimizing the clarity and volume of speech on the digital channels.

To further enhance the coverage range, telent will provide ESFRS with portable repeaters to deploy, for example, in a high-rise building, enabling coverage throughout the incident area on demand. Further digital communications options are available to link the fireground radio solution to the incident command unit using the Tait Unified Vehicle solution, which integrates fireground radio with 4G/LTE, including Wi-Fi connectivity and Bluetooth for hands-free voice operation. It will enhance Incident Command Unit (ICU) operators’ freedom, enabling them to move about and increase productivity and efficiency, with the added benefit of voice recording of radio communications on the channel.

“Tait is committed to providing enhanced safety critical radio communications products and solutions to vertical markets including fire and emergency response,” said Andrew Gill, managing director Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at Tait Communications. “Along with ESFRS and our long-term partner, telent, we have developed an easy-to-use, high-capability solution that is suited for the intensity of fire and rescue situations. We look forward to continuing our work developing and delivering mission-critical products and services to the sector.”

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