Operational Picture

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Operational Picture
                                                                                                                                                 people died, also informed the service’s approach
                                                                                                                                                 to major incident command.
                                                                                                                                                   Deputy Chief Fire Officer Olaf Baars said: ‘These
                                                                                                                                                 vehicles will play a key part in ensuring that we are
                                                                                                                                                 able to meet our statutory duty, under the Civil
                                                                                                                                                 Contingencies Act, to maintain operational
                                                                                                                                                 functionality regardless of circumstances.
                                                                                                                                                   ‘The ICU provides a 21st-century platform for
                                                                                                                                                 incident command, not only in terms of its
                                                                                                                                                 technological capabilities supporting operations
                                                                                                                                                 but because of its capacity to act as a multi-agency
                                                                                                                                                 command centre, linking directly to police and other
                                                                                                                                                 emergency response organisations. I would like to
                                                                                                                                                 thank the Fire Authority for its support for this major
                                                                                                                                                 project and to the suppliers themselves for their
                                                                                                                                                 hard work and commitment in developing these
                                                                                                                                                 impressive vehicles.’

                                                                                                                                                 Unique Features
                                                                                                                                                 ’VectorCommand‘s Command Support System
                                                                                                                                                 (CSS) incorporates unique features and operability,
                                                                                                                                                 and has delivered an outstanding range of
                                                                                                                                                 solutions for our Incident Command Unit. The
                                                                                                                                                 advanced technology of CSS enables us to run
                                                                                                                                                 everything, from a house fire to a major regional
                                                                                                                                                 incident, from a single location. It gives us access to
                                                                                                                                                 a wider range of information from the fireground
                                                                                                                                                 than ever before and links in to command areas
                                                                                                                                                 and our Brigade headquarters, at varying command
                                                                                                                                                 levels and to share dynamic information with
                                                                                                                                                 partner agencies. In terms of operational resilience,
                                                                                                                                                 CSS offers us an ideal platform for incident
                                                                                                                                                 command and control, and its adaptability will
                                                                                                                                                 make it a key component in our command and
                                                                                                                                                 control functionality for years to come.
                                                                                                                                                   ’These state-of-the-art units will attend incidents
                                                                                                                                                 across the county. They are packed full of the latest
                                                                                                                                                 satellite and communications technology and are
                                                                                                                                                 designed to function as a standalone command
                                                                                                                                                 and control facility - in fact, senior officers can run
                                                                                                                                                 Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service operations
                                                                                                                                                 from the ICU if necessary.

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service is exploring the power of the                                                Top: Royal Berkshire Fire
                                                                                                                  and Rescue Mobile Incident
Command Support System to deliver a Common Operational Picture                                                            Command vehicles;

and interoperability with other emergency responders in the county                                                   Right: Command Support
                                                                                                                  System Organisational Asset
and beyond.                                                                                                       Management on Command
                                                                                                                         vehicle touch screen;
Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service is the first   fight the fire, which raged over a large area and            Below: Ufton Nervet train
UK fire and rescue service to Go Live with the         took several days to put out. Over a million gallons           crash, November 2004.
Command Support System. In the process, the            of water, from castle mains and the River Thames,
service is learning how to maximise the command        were used in fighting the fire.
benefits - improved Situational Awareness and fast        Following the fire, important lessons were
creation of a real-time Common Operational Picture     learnt about the types of command, control and
- by improving communications across incident          communications systems that would improve the
grounds and throughout all levels of command           management of large numbers of firefighting
within a service. This is being done using wireless    resources over a prolonged period of time, across
and satellite communications, ruggedised laptops       a wide area, and in a high-risk and high-pressure
and the Command Support System. A key feature          environment.
of the system’s design is the intuitive touchscreen       At the recent launch of the service’s two new
interface; the system is intended to be easy to use    mobile incident command vehicles at Windsor Castle,
for non-technical operators.                           Chief Fire Officer Iain Cox, and Deputy Chief Fire
   Royal Berkshire FRS is the brigade which had to     Officer Olaf Baars made it very clear that the service’s
deal with the massive Windsor Castle fire in 1992.     experience fighting the Windsor Castle fire had been
When the world’s largest inhabited castle caught       a major driver when the service was defining the
fire, Royal Berkshire’s Fire and Rescue Service        specifications and capabilities of their next generation
found itself battling one of the largest and most      command support vehicles and systems.
devastating fires in recent UK history. Hundreds of       It wasn’t the only incident from which the service
firefighters and scores of appliances, from both its   had learnt lessons, however; a major train crash at
own service and other services, were required to       Ufton Nervet in November 2004, in which seven

’The vehicles and the technology combined cannot
deliver without the killer application that brings to
life their potential and capability. That application
is the Command Support System supplied by
   With the Command Support System Royal Berkshire
FRS can now, at high speed and in real time, link
geospatial information with other different types of
dynamic incident information, such as still and live
streamed imagery and dynamic asset management of
crews, vehicles and other resources, all within a single
interface.This creates a much more timely, accurate
and comprehensive Common Operational Picture in
support of improved decision making. Since the Royal
Berkshire FRS vehicles and Command Support System
have gone live, they have been involved in supporting
firefighters during a number of significant fires, a
factory explosion and a major flooding.
                                                               The South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service is now using the
Fireground                                                     Command Support System in both its mobile Incident Command
Communications                                                 Unit and at the State Coordination Centre on a regular basis.
                                                               Bulletin asked Assistant Chief Officer Roy Thompson to give an
Alan Newcombe, the head of IT for Royal Berkshire
FRS, is experimenting with a range of bearer                   update on progress.
network and wireless technologies to optimise
incident ground communications: ‘Our two new
Incident Command Vehicles have been designed               Could you describe some of the major incidents              Do laptops get used throughout incident                ‘What happened
and equipped to reduce the setup time for incident         that have now been managed using the                        grounds to send back incident information
                                                           Command Support System?                                     through wireless networks? What other
                                                                                                                                                                              in Victoria this
command units arriving at an incident. That is the
time it takes the unit to set up and take over the         We have used the system at a large chemical spill           communications technologies are being used?            year could easily
function of the command unit, and, once set up, to         that went on for about 8 hours and involved about           I do have a couple of laptops set up to do this, but   have happened
maintain a real-time or near real-time picture of all      50 firefighters as well as a multiple agency response       due to the lack of training they haven’t yet been
incident command functions.                                including police, ambulance and the EPA. It was used        deployed. We are using 3G to connect at the            in South
  ‘We plan to put the Command Support System               at a major gas leak that involved the partial               moment but may look at WiFi as well.                   Australia - we
on all front line pumping appliances. This will            evacuation of Adelaide's primary hospital and                  The Command Support System is currently
mean all crews and officers will be familiar with,
                                                                                                                                                                              had exactly the
                                                           Adelaide University, also involving multiple agencies       on one large mobile Incident Command Unit,
and will be using, the system on a daily basis. It will    and about 30 firefighters. The system was used at a         but we are also looking at fitting out smaller,        same fire
be a business-as-usual process, not something              large grass fire threatening several homes a couple of      van-size vehicles with the system to give us           conditions on
only used at large incidents.                              weeks after the Victorian bushfires earlier this year. It   greater flexibility.
   ’For fireground communications, tests with data         was particularly effective for overlaying the fire area,
                                                                                                                                                                              the same day
bearers (command unit to ruggedised laptops) is an         with GIS data received from an aerial water bomber.         What general observations can you make on the          as Victoria.
area we are currently doing a lot of work in. Currently                                                                recent catastrophic fires in Victoria, the problems
we have wireless 802.11a, b, g, and a node to extend       What have been the benefits of using the CSS                of climate change and growing fire threats in          We managed to
the distance.This is still not as good as we would like,   technology and approach?                                    Australia, as well as future plans by country and      ‘dodge the bullet’
so we are about to test 802.11n multi-path.We hope         Ease of use, very quick to ‘re-acquaint’ yourself with      metropolitan fire services throughout Australia
this will give us better distance, at best x 2.5, and      the software - this is a major issue for most other         to prepare to respond to these threats?
                                                                                                                                                                              this year, but we
multi-path around buildings.The concept we are             software that purports to achieve this.                     There is no doubt that climate change is having        know it is only
looking at is a MESH using 802.11n on each pumping            The advantage of the Command Support System
appliance, and in-fill if required with 802.11n portable
                                                                                                                       a dramatic effect on bushfire size, frequency and      a matter of time
                                                           is that it is based on a Decision Making Doctrine           intensity in South Eastern Australia, and we are
nodes or mounted on other vehicles.                        that all our Incident Controllers have been trained                                                                before a severe
  ‘The limitation of output (from standard 802.11)                                                                     now planning to tackle these fires on an annual
                                                           to use and rely on.This is applicable no matter             basis, either at home or in support of our             rural/urban
means the better solution may come from WiMax or           what type of incident or how large the scale or
WiMax/802.11n in combination. 3G/GPRS is the               duration. It means that all the information that is
                                                                                                                       neighbouring states. What happened in Victoria         interface
other method we will use when coverage permits, to                                                                     this year could easily have happened in South
                                                           required to manage the incident is available in one
                                                                                                                       Australia - we had exactly the same fire
                                                                                                                                                                              fire threatens
give more distance from command unit to laptop.’
                                                           place and in a format that they are familiar with.                                                                 the foothills
                                                                                                                       conditions on the same day as Victoria. We
Inter-brigade Operations                                   I believe that the System, once fully implemented,
  ‘We would like our incident command system to            will also become an invaluable debriefing and
                                                                                                                       managed to ’dodge the bullet‘ this year, but we        of Adelaide.’
                                                                                                                       know it is only a matter of time before a severe
support inter-brigade operations and inter-service         training tool.
                                                                                                                       rural/urban interface fire threatens the foothills     Roy Thompson
operations fully. Technically, some think this could
                                                           How have SAMFS staff been trained in their                  of Adelaide.
never be achieved, with some of the security
                                                           use of the system, and how are they exploiting                We helped support the response to the fires in
implications, but I am convinced that this is not the
                                                           its functionality as they become more familiar              Victoria by sending teams of 100 people every
case. The biggest problem in shared incident
                                                           with it?                                                    5 days, with a total of 800 going altogether. This
management is training. If we are using the same
system then it may become a reality, with all the          So far only a handful, but we are planning to train         sort of inter-state cooperation has been happening
benefits that can bring.                                   about 25 users in a training programme starting in          in Australia for many years.
   ‘With the Regional FiReControl project coming           May this year. These are senior officers, as we               The whole subject of fire is much more sensitive
there are many issues that would help with                 believe it is essential that this level of officer should   now, following the Victoria fires. People are edgy.
Incident Command over the region, as well as               understand how to use the system to manage                  At a recent fire near the city of Adelaide, which
nationally. It will not happen overnight, but with         incidents. Learning how to understand and use the           probably could have been handled with 4 pumps
commitment and planning slowly we can achieve a            software itself is quite straightforward. It is knowing     and two aerial water bombers, 25 vehicles were
world class integrated inter-service, inter-operable       how to use the system's functionality that is the           sent, to ensure there was no problem and to
command system.’                                           key to supporting incident management.                      reassure the public.


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Description: Operational Picture