Teething problems for new fire comms

Teething problems for new Fire and Rescue comms centres

The closure of Wollongong’s fire communications centre had thrown the emergency response system into chaos, with fire crews being called to jobs 800km away, an Illawarra union official claimed yesterday.
Teething problems and glitches in the new computer-aided dispatch system placed immense pressure on staff at Sydney and Newcastle centres, Fire Brigade Employees Union state president and Dapto fire station chief Darin Sullivan said.

The system had not been properly tested and crews were being sent to “ridiculous parts of the state”, he said.

Just yesterday, the Mercury received reports that the state-of-the-art system had temporarily crashed during the day.

Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) admitted both Sydney and Newcastle “experienced problems” yesterday but said there was “no impact on the receipt of Triple 0 calls and the dispatch of fire trucks to emergencies”.

As part of a rationalisation plan, the Wollongong and Katoomba fire communications centres were closed last month, with calls directed to staff in Newcastle or Sydney.

Staff from the Wollongong centre are being retrained this week to resume frontline firefighting duties, mainly at Albion Park.

“The downside is that we’ve got situations where crews are being called to jobs 800km away,” Mr Sullivan said. “They’re getting on the radio saying ‘do you realise where we are?’

“It’s putting a lot of pressure on the system operators – they are feeling very under the pump.”

Mr Sullivan said the union was keeping a log of all problems.

“If we find any … serious threat to the community we will be taking action. The system is not coping very well; it has a lot of teething problems which arguably should have been ironed out before going live.”

Union representatives met FRNSW officials to request extra staff be “immediately placed in the centres to alleviate stress levels”.

A FRNSW spokesman said yesterday the system had handled 6000 incidents in the first two weeks of its operation and had been “thoroughly tested before it went online” on June 12.

27 Jun, 2012 12:00 AM

About Darin Sullivan (1980 Articles)
Former President of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union (2009-2018) and a professional firefighter with more than 30 years experience. I live and work on the NSW South Coast, Australia. I am a strong advocate for firefighters and emergency service workers with an interest in mental health issues and caring for those around me. I am a former Director on the NSW Fire Brigades Death and Disability Super Fund and work with charities including ‘The Movember Foundation’. As a leader and activist I have long been active in the campaign for action on climate change. I am a Station Commander in the fire and rescue service in NSW and have 30 years experience fighting fires, both rural and urban. I am passionate about highlighting the impact climate change is having on fire preparedness and fire behaviour in Australia, and the risks associated with inaction on climate change. I am also a spokesperson for the Australian Climate Media Centre.
%d bloggers like this: