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Monday, 22 December 2014 00:00

Joint Communications & Technology Committee - 2 Minute Briefing

Issue 11: December 2014

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held Saturday 29/11/14)


With the recent release of EMV’s Long Term Communications Plan (LTCP), CFA have had to reassess the technical specifications of Listening Sets. The LTCP articulates the State’s operational communications vision for the sector and a high level plan to progressively move towards that vision from as early as 2017.

The complication arising out of this long term plan is the requirement for agencies to move towards P25 Phase 2 digital radio comms in the future. The current CFA digital network is P25 Phase 1, and CFA have advised that should CFA or other agencies move to Phase 2 in the future, then listening sets only capable of Phase 1 will not be able to pick up Phase 2 radio traffic. CFA has requested the committee to endorse a second round of expression of interest from manufacturers to see if a listening set capable of Phase 1 and Phase 2 is available, or able to be mass produced.

The issue confronting the committee is if CFA rolls out a listening set which members have to contribute money to, and which is only compatible with the current network, we will be back to where we are now with having to replace listening sets should the State move to Phase 2. With news that the preferred manufacturer could not mass produce the chosen Phase 1 listening set before Christmas anyway, the committee has agreed to CFA’s request to run an expedited EOI process over the Christmas and New Year period, providing the process does not exceed 6 weeks, and that CFA commits to then expedite results and a decision from that process early in the new year.

The committee has again communicated to CFA the urgency being communicated by our members and the need to choose and roll out listening sets ASAP. CFA has committed to working with the committee out of session in order to ensure there are no further delays. Updates will be provided early in the New Year to update members on progress.


Web Streaming is an option for members who don’t want to use a listening set, but would prefer to “stream” radio comms via their computer, smart phone or tablet. It is an electronic method of listening in on CFA radio channels, similar to how a listening set operates, but without the need for special hardware, or an upfront cost.

The committee was advised that attempts by CFA to develop an in house app for radio streaming has not been successful. The committee has now endorsed moving to an external “streaming” provider. A preferred supplier has been chosen, and is being trailed over the next few weeks with CFA advice that it should be able to roll out the service shortly.

Members need to be aware that this service will consume bandwidth, and those accessing via their mobile phones or tablets need to be aware of the consumption. The committee has requested CFA publish streaming rates and estimated data use per hour to ensure people can factor that into their decision to use the service.        CFA will also provide “beeps” at intervals to remind people they are still streaming – even though no voice traffic may be present on the network to assist members monitor their bandwidth usage.


CFA have advised there has now been some progress with a small number of visual and high volume alerting cradles being trialled for members who work in noisy environments. There are limitations to the cradle, and there are initially only 100 units available for trial. Members will provide feedback on their use. If the trial is successful, the committee will advocate for more units to be made available.


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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.