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Tuesday, 29 April 2014 00:00

Joint Communications & Technology Committee - 2 Minute Briefing

Communications & Technology

Joint Committee -2 Minute Briefing

Issue 8 - March 2014

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 01/03/2014)


CFA has advised that the industrial bargaining processes at ESTA have now been resolved and the training for ESTA console operators to uptake the new digital network requirements can commence. The planned roll out of the digital radio dispatch migration commencing with District 12 will now be re-scheduled with CFA already accepting the technical requirements and capabilities of Telstra’s network infrastructure in both District 12 and District 16. The network infrastructure works by Telstra is progressing to plan with 97 of the 193 sites constructed and powered up.

Coverage acceptance testing  which involves a physical drive across the entire District coverage area sees three (3) Districts accepted being D12, D16 and D22. The physical testing involves two specially fitted out CFA vehicles visiting all CFA stations, satellites and along all major roads testing signal integrity, strength and coverage.

Training programs are progressing as per the original project schedule with ‘train the trainer’ sessions completed in Districts 12, 2, 15 and D6. Ongoing refinements to the training program and materials is being undertaken based on the feedback from participants and trainers.

Radio Reflash – Progressing on the schedule as planned with more than 10,600 radios reflashed with a greater than 82% ‘first pass’ success rate.



CFA have advised that Business Cases for digital listening sets and streaming of dispatch channels on a web based platform have been approved by the CFA’s Executive Leadership Team (ELT).

STREAMING of digital dispatch audio to internet connected devices (eg personal computer, smart phone) in a similar fashion to ABC radio being streamed to the internet. CFA is ready to commence trials – currently waiting for audio traffic to start across the CFA Districts as they transition from analogue to digital.

DIGITAL LISTENING SETS - Expressions of Interest were called by CFA for suppliers to detail there product types and costings – the EOI process has now closed and CFA are evaluating the responses from a number of submissions received. A formal recommendation about the next steps will be developed in response to the evaluation process.


NBN and Power Outages

The JCAT Committee heard some disturbing reports from locations where NBN access has been enabled to homes and businesses that in times of power disruption phones interconnected as part of bundled packages are also falling silent. Members in Brigades should be aware that this loss of functionality during periods of emergency where notionally power is lost could leave brigades and members vulnerable without adequate back up systems.



VFBV delegates pressed CFA and ESTA to immediately commence field and evaluation trailing of a Visual Alert Cradle that may enhance user awareness of the pager receiving a message when that member works or is located in noisy environments. For many CFA members this is the case and a technology solution in the form of an accessory such as this alert cradle may provide members who demonstrate the need for such a device a useable solution.

An EAS Pager User Reference Panel will be established with VFBV representation to monitor and provide direction for pager improvements, software glitch fixes and will look immediately into what future product options can be developed to replace the Alpha Legend pager at the earliest possible time.

Pagers Not Working Properly – Some of the Over the Air (OTA) reprogramming that was completed during the pager rollout has not been successful and there is evidence that a further attempt can in many cases solve some unsatisfactory performance and user issues. Members should call the EAS Pager Help Line to request another OTA reprogramming session.


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CFA Volunteers are the unpaid professionals of our Emergency Services. VFBV is their united voice, and speaks on behalf of Victoria's 60,000 CFA Volunteers.