Wayne Stringer, Technical Support Manager at Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, who has chaired the working group dealing with incident command and defining the requirements for the new command vehicle, commented: "We conducted a very thorough review to determine exactly what we needed to help make further improvements to our operational efficiency and to enhance public and fire fighter safety.
"We looked at a wide variety of existing vehicles, used by fire and rescue services around the country, to ensure we had fully researched the capabilities of the current market. This helped us to design a command vehicle that would be sure to meet our Service’s current and future operational needs.
"The working group included members of our workshops, working alongside our emergency response and IT departments; and this helped to clarify the direction we needed to take, both in terms of fire and rescue scenarios and other emergencies. We also looked at the specific requirements for the vehicle, and how it would best support us at the wide range of incidents we attend, and thus improve our capabilities.
"Once all of the research had been completed. a technical specification was produced, clearly defining our requirements in the form of a tender document. This ensured that during a lengthy tender process, the Service had a clear direction and idea of the demands required to provide the vehicle.
"The key driver for the vehicle is based around interoperability and the ability to display a variety of relevant information to the large screen in the briefing area.’
The tender was issued earlier this year and was won by Excelerate Technology Group and Bott Ltd. The winning vehicle will be based on a Mercedes long wheelbase, high roof chassis and will have the full range of communications solutions provided by Excelerate Technology Group:
• Mobile satellite broadband based on the highly robust Enhanced Resilience Satellite Network, designed specifically for the emergency services and available exclusively from Excelerate;
• Wireless dual thermal rapid response and body-worn cameras (using the COFDM standard) for use in a wide variety of situations providing real-time video and situational awareness from around incident grounds and aerial platforms;
• The Digital Dashboard Management Interface (DDMI), a unique solution developed by Excelerate’s Research and Development department enabling emergency responders to concentrate on their primary roles by simplifying their use of technology and systems for optimising command and communications efficiency across the incident ground and between multiple agencies.
The service will also benefit from the inclusion of MESH communications capability, extending and enhancing wireless coverage across incident grounds, and the addition of GPS positioning for improved monitoring and management of personnel and fire fighting assets.
The new mobile command vehicle is due to be delivered to the Service around September 2013.
Commenting on Excelerate Technology Group’s successful inclusion in the Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service tender, Nicola Savage, the company’s sales and marketing director said: "We are absolutely delighted to be working in partnership with Bott Ltd and Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service to support the adoption of mobile satellite broadband and incident ground management applications for improved operational performance. We also look forward to providing the training and ongoing support which is so important for the successful implementation of these kinds of vehicles into emergency services, to enhance public and fire fighter safety."