$66 million radio upgrade improves firefighter and community safety in regional Victoria

Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Bushfire Response, Kim Wells today welcomed the rollout of a new multi-million dollar communications system for regional CFA brigades.

Launching the Regional Radio Dispatch Service (RRDS) at the Whiteheads Creek-Tarcombe fire station, Mr Wells said the new system would reduce the risk of dispatch communication failures and improve coordination between emergency services agencies.

“The Victorian Coalition Government today launched a new $66.24 million communications system which will significantly enhance emergency management response capabilities in regional Victoria,” Mr Wells said.

“This world class technology forms part of the Napthine Government’s commitment to ensuring our firefighters have the tools, resources and support needed to do their job.

“The new system will allow direct voice communications between firefighters responding to incidents in regional Victoria with Emergency Services Telecommunication Authority (ESTA) and dispatch operators (VicFire).

“RRDS will ensure reliable 24/7 communications between State Emergency Communication Centre dispatchers and responding emergency appliances, and ensure service delivery is consistent across the state.”

Joined by Nationals Candidate for Euroa Stephanie Ryan and Members for Northern Victoria Region Wendy Lovell and Amanda Millar, Mr Wells said the new system would reduce the risk of dispatch communications failures, improving firefighter and community safety in regional Victoria.

“Previously, approximately 45 per cent of CFA’s rural brigades had no direct contact with ESTA and relied on base station operators to relay urgent incident messages,” Mr Wells said.

“Already six CFA districts, including Whiteheads Creek-Tarcombe CFA station, are using RRDS, with the remaining brigades to transfer to the new system by August.

“Digital, state-wide coverage, improved audio clarity and quality are key benefits of RRDS which also eliminates some known ‘dead spots’ experienced in the old system.”

Mr Wells said the Coalition Government has a proven commitment to firefighters and has provided more funding to Victoria’s fire agencies than any previous government.

“Since coming to office in 2010, the Coalition Government has provided the CFA with more than $2.29 billion. This financial year the CFA Budget is $457 million, $58 million more than under the last Labor Budget.

“The Coalition Government recently announced another significant boost to the CFA’s emergency response capabilities, investing more than $29 million in the purchase of 78 new vehicles,” Mr Wells said.

“These investments in the CFA highlight the Coalition Government’s strong commitment to the CFA and recognises the critical role our career and volunteer firefighters play in keeping Victorians safe.”