Victoria kicks off $24.6m digital radio replacement

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Victoria kicks off $24.6m digital radio replacement

Updates 19 year-old kit.

The Victorian Government has begun a $24.6 million project rolling out 6000 new communications radios for the state’s firefighters.

The project will see the state’s current 19-year old fleet replaced by 6000 “state of the art” communications radios in firefighting vehicles, aircraft, incident control centres, fire towers and work centres across Victoria.

The updated technology will better protect emergency service personnel and the state’s citizens, the state’s Environment Minister Ryan Smith said today. Handheld radios will also be provided for operational staff.

"Each radio unit will be equipped with a GPS tracking system enabling incident managers to track the location of vehicles and firefighters in real time – improving fire ground operations, logistics and firefighter safety,” Smith said.

“The new radios are also compatible with CFA [Country Fire Authority] systems along with those of the SES [State Emergency Service] and our neighbouring states, which will simplify communications between the firefighting agencies when they are working together on the fireground.”

The GPS will allow in-vehicle and and hand-held digital radio users to access multiple mapping formats.

The GPS data is sent back to the tracking system of the agency leading the project, the Department of Primary Industries and Environment (DEPI), and displayed on the state’s FireMap system so the location of field resources can be more easily viewed. 

Under the state-wide project, 2000 radios will be installed over the next six months and the remaining 4000 before the 2014/15 fire season. 

The project came as a result of a recommendation of the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission which called for the standardisation of information and communications systems within the DEPI and the CFA.

Telstra was awarded the contract alongside AA Radio Communications and NZ-based Tait Communications. 

The Victorian Country Fire Authority in May similarly handed Telstra a multi-million dollar contract to build and maintain a digital radio dispatch network. That project covers 500 regional brigades and is expected to be completed and available to all regional brigades by June next year. 

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