Press coverage highlights from story:
- ComputerWorldUK, Cheshire Fire and Rescue improves safety with wireless network
- Government Computing, Cheshire Fire and Rescue improves safety with wireless network
- Computer Business Review, Networks First helps reduce emergency services operational risk
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has completed a wireless infrastructure upgrade with managed networks specialist, Networks First. The upgrade ensures timely and automated technical, operational and community safety data automatically syncs to the Service’s fire engines, providing vital information to before they arrive on scene at the emergency. The network enables far greater mobile working across its headquarters and 24 fire stations improving team collaboration and productivity. It also provides staff with access to the internet from their own devices during lunch breaks.
As part of the service’s risk mitigation policies, all fire response vehicles have onboard computers providing firefighters with detailed information about the site of the emergency before they arrive, such as property plans or dangerous chemicals being stored. This helps to improve the safety of the firefighters, but also helps increase community safety.
Mike Jones, IT manager at Cheshire Fire and Rescue, states: “The more information we can provide our firefighters in advance of a fire call out, the better prepared they can be and the more effective they will be in controlling the situation. This not only protects them but also the communities we have a duty to serve. By automating the updates, and sending them wirelessly to our onboard computers, we can be sure that the computers hold the most up to date information available.
“Additionally, the wireless upgrade is helping facilitate far better mobile working across the service. Any worker who has an accredited device – primarily laptops – can work in our headquarters and any of the services’ 24 other stations. “
Mike adds: “Previously, officers working in the field needed to come back to their permanent base to access our network. Now, they have far greater flexibility to work from any number of locations. This helps facilitate far better collaboration with our colleagues across the county and ensures our employees’ time is used as efficiently as possible.”
A three-phase deployment, the final phase included providing staff with separate access to the internet using their own devices during lunch breaks. This is a totally separate network to avoid compromising the security and integrity of the corporate network.
As part of the project, Networks First also installed Cisco’s Intrusion Prevention System onto the infrastructure to better manage and deal with potential external network attacks.
Peter Titmus, Chairman at Networks First comments: “Cheshire has embraced mobility and is using wireless technology very innovatively. It should be applauded for its work in mitigating risk to its firefighters and the public through wireless technology and we are proud to be supporting them.”
Networks First provides a fully managed service from its Networks Operation Centre in Redditch. From there, it manages both the LAN and wireless LAN environments across Cheshire and its headquarters and 24 fire stations. The wireless technology deployed is Cisco’s controller based solution – Cisco 5508 series for up to 100 access points, with redundant power supply. The access points connecting to this main controller are a combination of Aironet 1200’s and 1100’s, again from Cisco. The firewall configured is the Cisco ASA5515-K9.