Fire & Rescue implements secure network

News by Dan Raywood

CI-Net has installed emergency risk data for Shropshire Fire and Rescue service.

CI-Net has installed emergency risk data for Shropshire Fire and Rescue service.


The company has implemented the secure virtual private network which will provide mapping information, building layouts and specific incident data. Risk data is then sent to fire stations across the county and downloaded to touch screen computers on vehicles or appliances via wireless network connections within each station.


The network replaces an older dial-up that was based on an ADSL broadband connection, the new setup allows the headquarters to communicate effectively with the remote fire stations. It is managed by CI-Net from its Network Operation Centre that allows it to manage the network infrastructure including change control and issue resolution from a single point.


A StoneGate firewall device protects the network and manages load balancing and failover facilities at the Shrewsbury HQ, while the routers ensure all traffic between Shropshire Fire and Rescue sites is encrypted.


Graham Mclean, managing director of CI-Net, said: “The fire service is expecting its communications requirements to increase over time and we've focused on creating a cost effective future-proof solution that meets current demand, but also incorporates plenty of flexibility for future expansion ion as new needs emerge. The use of load-balancing technology allows us to simply add additional links to cater for any increases in network traffic.”


John Rix, network manager at Shropshire Fire and Rescue, said: “The stations receive emails and admin information from HQ to support the day-to-day running of the service including brigade orders that fire crews must adhere to. The GIU (graphical information unit), which is based in Shrewsbury, is responsible for adding regular updates to the mapping data covering the region that all fire stations need to maintain. Updates can include essential things like changes in the location of fire hydrants.


“Previously we had to have someone within the individual fire stations create a dial-up link to HQ. This could be slow and unreliable and we often experienced technical problems. For the on-board computers within our fire vehicles or appliances, we'd written a specific software script to create an automatic VPN connection via wireless access points in the fire stations. But if the VPN didn't work, we could lose connectivity, delaying the availability of risk data relating to emergency calls.”

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