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Sunday, 25 February

Rugged Tablets for Fire Service

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service is transforming life for firefighters on the frontline by equipping them with Panasonic rugged Toughpad tablets to access vital information during an emergency.

The service is deploying 13 inch Panasonic Toughbook CF-D1 tablets in the front cabs of its fire appliances. These Mobile Data Terminals (MDTs) are permanently mounted in the front of the vehicle and are connected to the existing Tetra Network. They will be used for providing vital information on the way to a call out, such as sending status updates to command and control, risk assessment requirements, vehicle safety data, safety data on any chemicals stored on site, details on the occupancy of the premises and nearby hydrant locations.

Smaller and lighter 10 inch Panasonic FZ-G1 Toughpad tablets are being installed in the back of the appliances for use by firefighters inside and outside of the vehicle when at the scene of an emergency. These devices will be used day-to-day for the asset management of equipment and inventory and in the future for providing valuable emergency information on site, such as vehicle crash rescue data, as well as for regular community duties such as home fire safety surveys and hydrant inspections.

John Barlow, the communications project manager and a former station commander with 35 years of experience in the service, is responsible for modernising Cambridgeshire Fire & Rescue Service’s frontline communications devices. He said: “We are investing to change all the existing MDTs to a more agile device to allow the crews to work more efficiently and smartly,” he explained. “The Panasonic devices are ideal for all the conditions we work in. We can read the device in bright sunlight and it is built to be used outside and in wet conditions without any problems. Feedback from field trials with the devices has been positive.”

In the future, Cambridgeshire sees other big advantages for firefighters in being able to use devices at the scene of an emergency. For example, at a road accident to identify important information about the safety features of a vehicle, such as airbags, so that they can quickly be turned off before releasing trapped passengers from the car.

“This type of use will be an absolute bonus to operations, making the task so much simpler and enabling the firefighters to work more effectively than ever,” said Barlow.

Commenting on the value the devices bring to the fire service, Callum Faint, Cambridgeshire Area Commander, said: “It’s a massive step forward. In the past, a member of the fire crew would have to remain in the cab of the fire engine. Now, being able to demount the information source and take it with us means the information can be right there, on the scene, really improving our operational effectiveness.”

“Today several thousand Panasonic Toughbook notebooks and Toughpad tablets are being used by Fire Services across the UK and Ireland,” said Will Holmes, Emergency Services Corporate Sales Manager for Panasonic Toughbook. “It’s the portability of the devices, their optimised connectivity, clear daylight readable displays, rugged design and Panasonic’s ability to design total solutions around the device that are proving to be the winning factors.”

Picture: Fire crew and Panasonic rugged tablet

 

Article written by Robin Snow

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