The three fire and rescue services that form South West Fire & Rescue Services (FRS) have joined forces to speed up emergency response times and make it easier to share resources.

Over the next few months Dorset, Wiltshire, and Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Services (FRS) will roll-out a brand new Public Services Network (PSN) compliant wide area network, giving 4,860 staff and 188 fire stations access to quicker data transfer and digital telephone services.

The new PSN linked with the Hampshire HPSN2 network will pave the way for a networked fire control system linking the four control centres for Dorset, Wiltshire, Devon and Somerset FRS and Hampshire FRS.

Linking them will offer greater resilience during a major incident or in disaster recovery situations, said the fire service partners. Once the new system goes live, if a control room is flooded with calls, those controls will be automatically redirected to another one in a matter of seconds, ensuring every call is dealt with quickly.

Fire and rescue services using the WAN - provided by Virgin Media Business - will be able to collaborate in other operational areas using secure cloud computing applications over the PSN.

Les Louth, director of ICT at Wiltshire FRS said, “With budgets being squeezed South West Fire & Rescue Services had to look for ways to improve the ageing technology infrastructure, without breaking the bank.

"The new network will contribute to and support the opportunity to develop collaboration within the fire services. We’re supporting PSN services in areas such as common systems and applications, common standards operating procedures and data management."

Earlier this year South West Fire & Rescue Services deployed a range of data encryption systems. Dorset, Wiltshire and Devon & Somerset FRS chose systems which included full disk encryption for IL 2 (protect) and IL 3 (restrict) level data, two-factor authentication, removable media encryption and central management.

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