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Case Studies

Communications for firefighters

East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service (ESFRS) is bringing in new safety critical fireground communications, for firefighters. The equipment will be supplied and installed by telent, its long-term IT partner.

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

Operational teams at ESFRS working with Tait Communications, and with telent, on a digital product, have included audio accessories with large buttons for use when wearing protective gloves. The digital communications range allows multiple radios to be used together over long and short distances. When the “Push To Talk” button is pressed on the digital radio, it sounds an alert tone indicating to the firefighter to start talking.

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. Ongoing support and maintenance of the radios will be provided by telent.

Richard Fowler, Assistant Director, Operational Support and Resilience, at ESFRS, said: “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. 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 product runs on pre-defined operational channels and uses a 4-Watt ATEX radio transmitter, a four-fold increase over typical analogue devices, providing more operational range. It has been developed to work with Dräger breathing apparatus, retaining the Lung Demand Valve (LDV) noise suppression, while using clarity and volume of speech on digital channels.

With the radios able to operate in close proximity, each firefighter may be issued with a radio, eliminating the need for sharing radios at an incident. telent will provide ESFRS with portable repeaters that can be deployed – for example, in a high-rise building – enabling coverage throughout the incident area on demand. Further digital communication options are available to link the fireground radio to the Incident Command Unit using the Tait Unified Vehicle which integrates fireground radio with 4G/LTE, including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for hands-free voice operation. Incident Command Unit (ICU) operators will be able to move about, with voice recording of radio communications on the channel.

Barry Zielinski, Operations and Services Director at telent, said: “Providing safety critical solutions as a trusted IT partner to the emergency services sector is a key focus for telent and we’re proud to be able to deliver communication services to support fire and rescue services across the country as they carry out their crucial work.”

About telent

The critical communications networks firm operates within various industry sectors, including transport, public safety, defence, Government and enterprise. It was recently appointed as the supplier to Highways England to operate and manage the National Roads Telecommunications Service. Clients include Transport for London, Kent County Council, county councils, Network Rail, BAE Systems, BT, London Ambulance Service, RNLI, Maritime Coast Guard Agency, Sky, and Virgin Media.

telent exhibited at the BAPCO 2020 show last month. Visit


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