Fire service radio deal finally signed

Fire service radio deal finally signed

National communications network was originally scheduled to go live in 2005

The £350m Firelink contract for provision of a national radio system for fire and rescue services across the country has finally been signed, nearly two years later than expected.

Supplier O2 Airwave officially won the deal in November but the contract has only just been signed.

Specification changes and internal reorganisation at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister caused considerable delays to a project originally scheduled to be contracted in July 2004 and rolled out by 2005. O2 Airwave and rival bidder, French defence contractor EADS, were competing for the deal for more than six years.

The tetra-based Airwave radio system will now be rolled out to brigades by 2008, alongside the FiReControl programme to consolidate the 46 local control rooms into nine regional cetnres.

A national Airwave network is used by the police and is also being rolled out to the ambulance service following a 13-year deal, also delayed, signed in July last year.

Fire minister Jim Fitzpatrick said: 'Today’s emergency services increasingly face large-scale incidents that require a multi-agency response and it is important that our Fire and Rescue Service is equipped to be a resilient and modern service capable of meeting the demands and challenges of today’s environment.

'For the first time ever the different Fire and Rescue Services will be able to communicate with each other via the same radio network and with other emergency services via radio.'