New tech for fire data
New mobile data terminals have been fitted to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service's fleet of 5,000 trucks.
The technology looks like a tablet computer, and could be hugely important for firefighters the next time they face intense fire events.
The equipment can share the latest weather forecasts, fire behaviour, and safety warnings, and will eventually be upgraded to help track crews and their trucks.
“It's about connecting our firefighters with this technology and improving their situational awareness,” RFS Deputy Commissioner Peter McKechnie says.
“Having to transmit over the radio and address an incident or something we may need to tell them for their own safety about a product that might be stored at a certain location, now we'll be able to just instantly send them those details.”
The Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA) says relying on radios has had limitations.
“As we saw many, many times in 2019–2020 radios are tied up with something [when] an emergency is taking place,” RFSA president Scott Campbell says.
“The information that will come to us about fire weather, mapping, the incident information, and information that is given to our fire control centres and that ability to push that out to our field commanders will be a game changer.”
Mr Campbell says volunteers will be better protected in the future.
“It will definitely improve safety,” he said.
“One of the things that came out of the Keelty inquiry was the ability to track trucks.
“Once all trucks are then on the GRN system they will have that capability because, currently, we're reliant on a radio message.
“It'll be made so much easier with a data terminal because they will be able to see where you are.”
The NSW RFS is working with IT experts on the rollout, and says the installation will start in early 2023. It should take around three years to complete.