Munster Regional Control Centre

Mission

The Munster Regional Communications Centre is responsible for the efficient and effective mobilisation of fire appliances and other agencies with the munster region.

Introduction

Up to the early 1990’s, emergency calls for Fire Services were routed directly to the local Station Officer’s home telephone by the local exchange. The Station Officer and his family were therefore responsible for all call-taking and mobilisation of the local Fire crews.

In 1992, Limerick City Council, as lead Authority, initiated a project to establish a regional mobilisation and communications system on behalf of the Fire Authorities in Munster. This project was completed in 1993 and has been improved upon and expanded up to present time. The Munster Regional Communications Centre is now part of a national network of three fire service mobilisation and communications centres, and reflects current best practice in all aspects of its activities, including its operational response, technology and management.

The Centre currently provides emergency call-taking and mobilisation services for 10 Local Authority Fire Services in the Munster Region; namely Clare County Council, Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Kerry County Council, Limerick City Council, Limerick County Council, North Tipperary County Council, South Tipperary County Council, Waterford County Council and Waterford City Council.

Since its inception in 1992, the Centre has processed in excess of 250,000 calls, and now mobilises 65 retained and 4 full-time Fire Stations in Munster. The Centre itself is a 24x7x365 operation, and employs a system of procedures to ensure that it operates to the highest possible standard. Approximately 24,000 999/112 emergency calls are answered and processed per annum in a speedy and efficient manner, so that the correct Fire Brigade is mobilised to an emergency incident in as efficient a manner as possible. The centre also provides a mobilising service for Limerick Marine Search and Rescue.

Historical Background

The Project came on stream on the 20th of November 1992. The Munster Regional Communications System was operated, managed and controlled from the Communications Centre, which is located on a site at Limerick City Fire Station. Michael Smith T.D., Minister for the Environment, officially opened the Centre on the 24th of September 1993.

Regional Communications Centre Staff Structure

The Senior Executive Emergency Communications Officer has responsibility for the day to day management of the system.  The system is implemented by a Project Manager and Executive Communications Officer, three Pricipal Emergency Communications Operators, five Senior Emergency Communications Operators, and fifteen Emergency Communications Operators.

Munster Regional Communications Centre Training Programs

Munster Regional Communications Centre Staff are an essential resource and this is recognized by Senior Management.  All staff should have the skills required to ensure their work is quality work.  Staff members are also responsible for maintaining their own levels of expertise by completing a minimum of one hours training per day.  Training is recorded as completed and understood in staff training records.

The purpose of Communications Centre training is to achieve organisational requirements, maintain and surpass standards previously achieved.  New staff are trained in accordance with a pre-defined training and induction program.

The objective of the Training Policy is that all training is planned, implemented and evaluated.  Staff requirements and Supervisor recommendations are assessed.  Training is provided in operational, personal developmental and administrative areas of the organisation.  Training providers vary from in-house personnel to outside training providers. 

MRCC staff can avail of in-house training facilities and equipment as well as attending external courses. 

The Munster Regional Communications Centre is also a provider of External and Project Training for participating Fire Authorities.  Internal Major Emergency Exercises are planned and the performance of staff, equipment and procedures is assessed and evaluated.  It is hoped that the Major Emergency Exercises will be integrated with external Fire Authority Training in the future.

Under ISO 9001:2000, it is the duty of the organisation to determine the necessary competence, provide training, evaluate the effectiveness of the training, ensure that personnel are aware of the relevance and importance of their activities and maintain appropriate records.

Finance

The Munster Regional Communications System is financed by a combination of Capital Grants from the Department of Environment Heritage and Local Government who fund initial infrastructural costs and contributions from the Member Fire Authorities who fund the ongoing running costs of the system. The Member Authorities pay annual contributions towards the system based on an average of average formula agreed by the City and County Managers, which considers population, rateable evaluation and number of fire calls.

Management Information Systems

The Communications Centre also provides Management Information resources and technology to the member authorities in terms of their service indicators and other areas which require analysis. Management Information Systems have also been developed for internal analysis of performance to aid in the process of continual improvement of the quality of service.

Project Implementation

The first phase of the system was implemented by the project staff of Limerick City Fire Service and alerted 50 retained Stations in Munster and one full time Station in Limerick City. In addition 11 Fire Brigades outside the region were mobilised into the region. The Authorities mobilised by the system at that time were Limerick City, Limerick County, Clare County, Kerry County, Tipperary North, Tipperary South, and Waterford County. In addition the Regional Communications System also mobilised six Fire Stations in Cork County.

As the next phase of the project Cork County Fire Service agreed to become part of the Munster Regional Communications System. This was a major project as an additional 15 Fire Stations were connected to the existing system and this substantially increased the workload on call taking facilities. Also the complexities of the proposed integration of the Cork County Fire Service necessitated enhancement and improvement of the existing system. With this in mind Limerick City Council implemented a project to upgrade the system both in relation to the Command and Control Software, communications equipment and infrastructure. The facilities introduced to Cork County Fire Service represented a substantial upgrade of the old Communications System.

The remaining phase of the project started in mid-2003 and involved the installation of new communications equipment in six fire authorities, namely, Kerry, North Tipperary, South Tipperary, Clare,  Limerick County, and Waterford County Fire Authorities The project involved the implementation of the following  technology modules:

-         Private Mobile Radio – Central control and new base stations for the Waterford County, Limerick County, Clare, Kerry, North Tipperary, and South Tipperary fire authorities.

-         Extension of Sub-Comms system – The installation of callout equipment in 44 fire stations.

-         Network Infrastructure Design – Installation of a number of new microwave backbone links to support voice and data signalling between the control centre and all fire authorities in the Munster region.

-         Centralised IT hardware platform – The upgrade of servers at control centre to support the completed network backbone.

Cork City were integrated into the system in May of 2005 and Waterford City in July 2006.

The Munster Regional Communications Centre (MRCC) supports an advanced telecommunications network across the region. The network was built in three distinctive phases.

The historical evolution of the telecommunications network at the MRCC is illustrated in the diagram below.

Ongoing Development within the Munster Region

The Munster Regional Communications system implemented a new control room geographical information system (GIS) system in 2006. The GIS provides a range of functions ranging from enhanced management information to providing operators with a visual representation of an incident.

The MRCC is to equip 20 appliances in the Munster with an advanced mobile data system. The new system will provide comprehensive information to all operational fire crews attending incidents in an electronic form, which had previously only been available in paper based format. Additionally the new system will allow front line personnel to have instant access to the "whole picture" including supplementary information via map-based software at the touch of a button

The upgrade of the region’s telecommunications infrastructure now enables the MRCC to pursue the delivery of advanced IP related services to the Munster fire service, including WiFi access at stations, fixed and wireless Voice over IP (VoIP), e-Learning, and provision of mobile risk related data to firefighters.

ISO9001:2000

The Munster Regional Communications System was awarded certification to the prestigious, internationally recognised ISO9001:2000 quality award by the National Standards Authority of Ireland in 2005. This certification was awarded across all areas of the systems operation, Operational incident processing, Finance, Training, Management Information Systems, Project Management etc.   In 2006 the Centre underwent its first re-certification audit and successfully achieved recertification to the ISO90001:2000 quality management standard.

In 2006 the Centre’s quality management project was nominated for the European UDITE award for performance improvement.  (UDITE is a European body made up of local Authority/Local Government organisations).  Following an intensive national and European audit process the project finally finished in the top four UDITE European projects and received an award at the UDITE Congress in Malta.  The project was also presented at the LGMSB’s Excellence in Public Service conference in Dublin in 2006.

Munster Regional Communications Centre Building

Construction of the Munster Regional Communications Centre Building on the Fire Station Site in Mulgrave Street was completed in 1999. This new building has been custom designed to facilitate the operational and technical requirements of a Regional Communications Centre. The Building was opened by the Minister for Environment Noel Dempsey on the 21/07/2000.

Contact Information:

For further information please contact:

Fergal Stack , Senior Executive Emergency Communications Officer
            Phone:(061) 407300
            email:

or       

Gerard O’Driscoll, Project Manager,

Phone:(061) 407300

godriscoll@limerickcity.ie

who are all based at the Control Centre on Mulgrave Street.


Last update:31/08/2009

Translate

Feedback