System assists in forest fire evacuation

Zetron Australasia Pty Ltd
Monday, 30 July, 2012

Communications control technology from Zetron has been at the centre of operations to fight a wildfire and evacuate residents from a remote area of Tarragona in north-eastern Spain.

Following a drought and unusually high temperatures, the fire quickly took hold in the rural area south of the town of Rasquera. Fanned by high winds, it was only extinguished after three days of round-the-clock activity by 60 firefighting and civil defence teams supported by aircraft dropping water on the flames. In that time, the blaze scorched more than 3000 hectares of scrubland and pine forest and forced 52 people from their homes.

During the emergency, operators used a Zetron system to coordinate the safe movement of people while continuing to direct the firefighters and aircraft as they tackled the fire. The system enables operators to manage up to 30 different radio and telephone channels through a touch-screen display. Twenty-one of the evacuees were moved to a sports hall before being allowed to return to their homes once the blaze had been controlled.

The Cataluña emergency response vehicle was used at the scene, and is one of 12 across Spain equipped with the communications control systems, all under a multimillion Euro contract won by Kenwood Iberica. Each vehicle is on permanent standby, ready to play a crucial role should any of the country’s regional governments have to respond to a civil emergency or disaster of any type.

Rosa Mata i Frances, chief of logistic and territorial services for Cataluña, said, “The solution configured by Kenwood in our emergency vehicle has proved itself a number of times, the latest incident being the Rasquera wildfire. Multiple agencies were involved, but the Zetron control consoles enabled our operators to act as communications coordinators, ensuring that ground and air resources were not wasted, and that we achieved the swift and efficient removal of residents to a place of safety.

“In our debrief following the fire, our operators again commented on how the Zetron system is intuitive and easy to use, enabling them to maintain clear and concise communications even when under pressure.”

Kenwood’s role as lead contractor in the Spanish civil emergency vehicles program was to provide the radio and control technology for each vehicle and to project manage the fit-outs. “Many of the regions specified very similar communications links, typically VHF private mobile radio, coupled with GSM and wireline telephony,” says Ramon Anguera, commercial director, Kenwood Iberica. “Cataluña’s vehicle is the most complex with five DCS-5020s, handling a mix of marine, satellite, TETRA and HF radio, as well as VHF analog and mobile and fixed telephony.

“Across the entire fleet of 12 vehicles, we installed 50 DCS-5020 consoles, and the feedback we’ve been getting from the civil defence operators has been very positive. In particular, they like the simple and very clear way in which the Zetron console system presents information to them. Under the pressure of dealing efficiently with an emergency, it’s one less thing for them to worry about.”

The digital consoles enable small to medium-sized operations control rooms to combine telephony with both digital and analog radio control, supporting combinations of up to 30 resources, including up to 16 screen-based operator consoles.

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