Three fire and rescue services in the South West of England have joined forces with Virgin Media Business to speed up emergency response times and make it easier to share resources. Over the next few months, Dorset, Wiltshire, and Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Services (FRS) will roll-out a brand new Public Services Network (PSN) compliant Wide Area Network (WAN) giving 4,860 staff and 188 fire stations access to quick data transfer and digital telephone services.
For the fire service every second counts. The new PSN linked with the Hampshire HPSN2 network will pave the way for a Networked Fire Control system linking the four control centres for Dorset, Wiltshire, Devon and Somerset FRS and Hampshire FRS. Each one deals with calls from hundreds of citizens each week. Linking them will offer greater resilience during a major incident or in disaster recovery situations. Once the new system goes live, if a control room is flooded with calls, they will be automatically redirected to another one in a matter of seconds, ensuring every call is dealt with quickly.
The shared network will also provide the foundations for the partners sharing the WAN to take full advantage of PSN services. Fire and Rescue services using the WAN will be able to collaborate in other operational areas using secure cloud computing applications over the PSN.
Les Louth, director ICT, Wiltshire FRS said: “The safety of our local community is the number one priority and it’s essential that every 999 call gets through. With budgets being squeezed the South West Fire Services had to look for ways to improve the ageing technology infrastructure, without breaking the bank. The new network from Virgin Media Business will contribute to and support the opportunity to develop collaboration within the fire services. We’re supporting PSN services in areas such as common systems and applications, common standards operating procedures and data management. This is reducing the risk to the community and ensures the safety of our fire fighters.”
“From responding to incoming calls and co-ordinating emergency responses, to managing the daily business of each control room and fire station, improved ICT provides the country’s emergency services with a real opportunity to innovate and improve their services. It’s essential that they stay online no matter what,” said Lee Hull, director of public sector, Virgin Media Business. “We’ve invested heavily in PSN services because we’ve seen the clear benefits it brings to the public sector, improving the way they work and helping to cut costs too. We’re delighted to be working with South West Fire Services to help support their collaboration and innovative new fire control systems. Both are going to deliver a massive boost to response times in the local community.”