Mobile Data Terminals rolled out to assist firefighting efforts

Pindimar/Tea Gardens Rural Fire Service crew volunteers assembled to learn how to use the new Mobile Data Terminals.

NEW technology has begun its rollout across NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) vehicles, in the form of Mobile Data Terminals (MDTs), transforming every fire-truck into a moving computer centre.

The MDTs are hardened touchscreen devices that currently have 4G connectivity, and allow a host of information to be sent and received both before and during firefighting operations.

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Information such as weather updates from the Bureau of Meteorology, instant messaging between units, crew and vehicle details, location services, and various maps showing intelligence such as slope, hills-hade, elevation, fuel-loading and more.

“The introduction of MDTs in our frontline vehicles has been made possible through generous public donations to the RFS and Brigades Donations Fund, and marks a significant advancement in operational intelligence and communication strategies during incidents and operations,” an RFS spokesperson told NOTA.

“They are touchscreen tablets mounted on vehicle dashboards, accessible by both driver and passenger, providing up-to-date information in the field, assisting with better and faster decision-making when responding to an incident.

“However, the new technology will not replace the vital role radios play within the RFS, but ensures radio communications can now be reserved for urgent and critical intelligence.”

Pindimar/Tea Gardens RFS Captain Daivd Bright told NOTA, “MDTs are a fantastic tool, they are getting better every day as more information becomes available on them, the benefits of getting immediate information are tremendous.

“In the past, we have relied heavily upon our radios, which can become congested during big operations.

“These will relieve some pressure from radio system.”

Some of the key benefits and enhancements from MDTs include the ability for two-way, real-time sharing of operational intelligence between members in the field and Incident Management Teams (IMTs), and access to a single source of incident information, improving pre-incident preparation and informing actions by crews and strike teams.

Integration with existing RFS systems will also enhance dispatch and response capability.

The rollout of MDTs across the RFS fleet is set for completion in 2026 with continued improvements made as they become available.

By Thomas O’KEEFE

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