With 1st July 2020 only weeks away the transition of what has traditionally been stations operating under the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) entity and those from the Country Fire Authority (CFA) Integrated Stations will operate under a new combined entity known as Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV).
For those unfamiliar an integrated station is one that has traditionally, within the CFA, had paid professional staff and volunteers operating out of the station asset.
Phase 1 of the transition will involve all current MFB Fire Stations and an initial 11 formerly CFA Integrated Fire Stations now coming under the FRV banner.
All these changes will of course mean a change in what we’ve heard traditionally in some areas.
The initial 11 CFA stations and their new respective Fire Station numbers, for the Greater Alarm Response System (GARS), ESTA, CAD and FireCom identification purposes are:
- Greenvale (FS54)
- Caroline Springs (FS55)
- Tarneit (FS57)
- Point Cook (FS58)
- Craigieburn (FS80)
- South Morang (FS81)
- Eltham City (FS82)
- South Warrandyte (FS84)
- Boronia (FS85)
- Rowville (FS86)
- Springvale (FS89)
A further 10 current integrated stations should follow at a date yet to be decided, those being:
- Sunbury (FS53)
- Melton (FS56)
- Dandenong (FS87)
- Hallam (FS88)
- Paterson River (FS90)
- Frankston (FS91)
- Cranbourne (FS92)
- Pakenham (FS93)
- Mornington (FS94)
- Rosebud (FS95)
Until the completion of Phase 2 for the above 10 stations it is planned they will still continue to use the traditional CFA event escalation system. At a guess the remainder of the former CFA Integrated Stations will make up Phase 3 of the changes.
Currently new Motorola MMR radios are being installed in the selected appliances at what is known as the “GARS 11” Stations, those being he initial CFA stations to transition. This is said to be at the MFB’s request, although let’s face it, it’s at the request from a far higher entity who is making the decisions and directing the project, and is to enable those appliances to operate on the MMR network along with the existing MFB stations. These installations will be complete by the end of June and the existing CFA Tait Mobile radios will also remain in those 11 appliances at present pending further decisions yet to be made.
The CFA is liaising with ESTA and the MFB to utilise available spare channels in the CFA Tait Mobile radios that can be patched by ESTA to the MFB/FRV Dispatch radio channels.This will ensure all CFA Appliances supporting FRV can communicate on the FRV Dispatch radio channel using their existing CFA Tait Mobile radio, and there is no reprogramming of the CFA Tait Mobile radios required for this to occur. CFA, MFB & ESTA are currently working through the necessary approvals for this to occur.
For those unaware ESTA, whilst also being the ‘voice on the radio’ for those on the ground, are essentially the custodians of the MMR Network on behalf of the State Government.
To ensure CFA Brigades that will share a response boundary with FRV assets, including the “GARS 11” co-located CFA Brigades, can communicate with FRV on the MMR network fireground channels, an additional 72 Motorola MMR Portable radios are being supplied for allocation to those CFA Brigades.
This is much like what happened when the MFB migrated to the MMR Network some 15 years ago, neighboring CFA Brigades to the what is known as the Metropolitan Fire District (MFD) which was served by the MFB, were issued roughly 200 odd MMR portables in the event they attended a call in the MFD. These were also supplied to CFA specialists appliances, such as HazMat, Ladder Platforms, Rescues and the like.
The renaming of CFA Appliance Names, which traditionally has formed part of the radio callsign with CFA assets, to their new ‘Appliance Numbers’, all appliances transferring to FRV are to have their existing Tait Mobile radios reprogrammed with their new FRV radio ID and Alias.
As an example, Dandenong Pumper 2 have had their Tait Mobile radio changed from a radio alias of “DANDP2M1” to “P87B”. Currently as part of the project the reprogramming of 451 radios has commenced underway with plans to have it completed by July 1. All existing radios in remaining CFA Appliances should be remaining as they are.
Delivery of the radios is to occur during June with this being in addition to the existing MMR assets that are already allocated to CFA Brigades. All CFA vehicles at the “GARS 11” co-located stations will have MMR allocated to ensure interoperability with FRV on the fireground.
Let’s just hope the MFB/FRV can sort out their issues with their new Motorola APX series portables, the issues are such that they’ve reverted to their old XTS series portables in the interim in many areas.