The National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management is responsible for supporting the Irish Fire Service and co-ordinating the national response to severe weather, nuclear accidents, environmental pollution and a range of other major emergencies.
Helping consolidate resources, processes and technical solutions to deliver a new, more robust national mobilisation solution
Recognising the limitations of ageing equipment within fire service control rooms, the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management (NDFEM), in partnership with Limerick City and County Council, began a long-term programme to upgrade equipment, improve operating procedures, and procure and implement a new mobilisation platform. This platform would bring three separate Regional Control Centres (RCCs) into a collaborative, centralised solution capable of supporting each other in responding to incidents at times of high demand. It needed independent, expert advice to guide this major transformation.
Due to our existing knowledge of the Irish Fire Service and of services and suppliers, Mason Advisory was commissioned to lead the procurement programmes and provide technical leadership across each phase of the project.
We have taken a key supporting role in:
- determining the specification for each tender
- working with the Irish Fire Service teams
- managing procurement processes
- selecting preferred suppliers
- negotiating final contract awards
- supporting the ongoing implementation.
Phase 1 – Station end equipment
The first phase involved replacing the disparate alerting systems located at 218 fire stations with a common solution that would adapt itself to centralisation in the later phases of the programme. We used our expertise in control room systems to assist the NDFEM with the full process, from tendering to contract award.
We were then asked to stay on into the Implementation stage as the technical design authority to ensure compliance with the future centralised vision.
Phase 2 – Wide-area network (WAN)
The initial view of Phase 1 was to use TETRA radios for communication from the control centres to the fire stations. However, rather than being reliant on a radio network, we recommended implementing a more modern ADSL system. We ran a comprehensive procurement process and, following contract award to the preferred supplier, became technical adviser for this project which is now delivering significant stability benefits to the fire service.
Phase 3 – Technical evaluation for mobile radio suppliers
TETRA radios would still be needed for use by individuals in the field. We were asked to carry out both a business and technical review against three possible suppliers’ solutions for TETRA radios with a final report outlining recommendations. Roll out of the radios to the field has been successful to date, and is ongoing
Phase 4 – Command, Control and Communications platform procurement
Recognising the significant assistance we had already provided, the NDFEM brought Mason Advisory on board to support the procurement of the new Command, Control and Communications (Ctrí) solution to service the three existing RCCs in Munster (Limerick), East (Dublin) and West (Castlebar).
We managed the formal tender process through the Irish eTender portal; worked closely with the Irish Fire Service team on the technical specifications and with the Limerick Council legal representative to develop the necessary T&Cs; led the formal review process of bids received; and, once a preferred supplier had been appointed, finalised the contract and technical design to allow the project to move to the implementation phase.
Phase 5 – Ctri platform implementation
The NDFEM invited us to continue our support as the overall technical design authority for the solution. We also brought in an experienced, dedicated project manager to run the overall control room project and work with the selected supplier. This project is ongoing.
We have played an integral role in helping the Irish Fire Service migrate to a new, more robust mobilisation solution within its control rooms, providing mobilisation of resources in an efficient and effective manner.
Benefits delivered include:
- a more resilient communications framework between sites which has held up successfully across a number of major incidents
- major cost savings through centralised purchasing and reduced maintenance costs
- further cost savings from enabling the decommissioning of the expensive legacy VHF radio infrastructure.
We are proud to be playing a central role as a trusted adviser in this continuing transformation project.
“Mason Advisory Limited have been a valued partner in the development and delivery of the Irish Fire Services Ctrí project. This project represents the most comprehensive and significant technical change to Irish Fire Service command and control operations in its history and Mason Advisory Limited have been a key supporting element to the project’s success to date”
Mr Fergal Stack (Ctrí Project Manager)