CASE STUDY: Digital Trunked System Knocks Down Largest Fire in a Decade
From pockets of coverage to trueinteroperability countywide.
Prior to implementing a digital 800 MHz trunked radiosystem, Champaign County experienced “pocketso interoperability” according to Greg Abbott, 911Coordinator or METCAD (Metropolitan Computer-Aided Dispatch) and system manager o the digital800 MHz trunked system. “Our old system was UHFand VHF, and interoperability was an issue. I frewanted the police, it was okay, but it was lacking inthe other direction. Even in rural Illinois, we werehampered or requencies and 800 MHz was the onlyplace we could go.”Rather than transition to a short-term solution,Abbott continues, “We realized we were lookingat it the wrong way – our real need was systemcapacity, eatures, and looking to the uture ocommunications. In-building coverage was alsobig and we were looking at where the industrywas going. With the new ASTRO 25 platorm, wehave increased our system capacity and provideinteroperability across the county.”
A digital system that performs seamlesslyunder re.
The countywide system was put to the test onNovember 7, 2008 in what Chie Douglas Forsmandescribes as the largest fre in a decade and one othe top fve in his 45-year career. As he looked outhis picture window early that morning, he saw thesky lit up six miles away. A three-story, 125-year oldbuilding under renovation in downtown Champaignwas ablaze.*“A huge body o fre was showing upon our arrival,so we knew this was going to be challenging, notonly or the building on fre but or those adjacentto it,” he explains. “We called a second alarm andthen a third alarm very quickly which brought a hugeamount o resources there, and it was a task thattook us most o the day. It involved not only the fredepartment, but police or security and public worksor helping us clear the streets and demolish portionso the building that had burned, so it was a multi-agency, multi-discipline activity that required a lot ocoordination and communication.”Utilizing Motorola XTS
5000 and XTS
2500 digitalradios, renowned or their ruggedness, clarity andull-eatured unctionality, numerous agenciesworked the inerno. The huge range o talkgroups andencrypted channels made sharing inormation andmanaging resources run like clockwork, according toChampaign’s chie. “It would have been an absolutenightmare i the P25 standard hadn’t been in place,”he says. “When you need all o the resources to dealwith a signifcant incident, they’re all there and theycan all switch to a shared channel.”
Uninterrupted communications andoptimal efciency.
As the fre raged, Greg Abbott responded to thedispatch center in which is located in neighboringUrbana to monitor system perormance. “Thecountywide system perormed admirably. At thepeak o the fre, we had fve talkgroups in use orfre exclusively and we had eight more talkgroupsor normal trafc. At peak loading, the 5:30am to6:00am range, we were only using 35% o thesystem’s capacity with 600 radios. I was amazed byits perormance.”
“We were able to talk and respond like clockwork. You don’t want communicationsto ever be an issue on scene.”
– Chief Douglas Forsman, Champaign Fire Department
Magazine (November2009) reported that 110 frefghters,nine engines, our ladders, onesquad and one incident commandvehicle were on scene; six buildingswere damaged and the historicbuilding destroyed, totaling three-and-a-hal million dollars.
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