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Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service are supported by telent during Fire Station Redevelopment Project

Following a successful PFI bid to build seven new community fire stations across their area, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority (MFRA) turned to telent to deliver and manage the ICT systems that are integral to each station safeguarding the community it serves.

The challenge

Working in partnership with neighbouring Fire and Rescue Services, the three Fire Authorities – Lancashire, Cumbria and Merseyside – received Government approval for a Private Finance Initiative Project to build 16 new fire stations across the regions. Seven of the new facilities would be built on the site of existing stations in the Merseyside area. The objective of this project was to replace ageing, inappropriate and/or poorly located facilities and was part of the largest fire station building project for UK Fire Services in history and the biggest construction programme of its kind in the North West of England.

A key challenge of the project for six of the seven stations was to build and occupy a temporary station accommodation on the site of the existing station whilst the existing station was demolished and re-built, a total of thirteen station moves.

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MF&RS) approached its technology partner, telent, to provide the system design, project management and transition services for the essential ICT systems at each new station.

Services required by MF&RS included:

  • Transitional mobilising system design for station-end and alerter systems
  • Mobilising system installation & ICT systems design associated with a new station build
  • Third party, supplier and contractor management
  • Engineering resource scheduling

Key to the success of this scheme was the need to maintain vital 999 Command & Control capabilities during the transition from old station to new including the temporary accommodation phase for six of the seven stations. It was also essential to avoid incurring financial penalties with the building contractors who would be able to penalise any delay to their construction programme, the avoidance of ‘service-strikes’.

The Solution

To allow for the thirteen station moves & to provide fully-functional 999 capabilities during station transition, telent designed and implemented a bespoke rolling station-end mobilisation solution. Created and tested in the labs at telent’s Liverpool base, this elegant solution significantly reduced installation time on site and minimised network downtime to manageable levels.

telent at work

With system design and transitional issues in hand, telent were tasked with managing ICT third parties, suppliers and contractors throughout each station build. To avoid ‘service strikes’ which hold up construction and incur significant penalties, all third party carrier services were disconnected and physically removed from site prior to demolition/construction phases. Secondary and tertiary communications methods were put in place as fall back solutions to the mission critical services.

Issues encountered and resolved by telent during this phase included the discovery that, in several cases, telecoms services provided to neighbouring properties used infrastructure that ran through the fire stations which were due to be demolished. A legacy of the days when fire fighters lived in the houses that surrounded the fire station.

Working with the affected neighbours and the carriers responsible for the infrastructure in question, telent was able to resolve all such issues without impacting the construction programme and with minimal disruption to the surrounding community. A corporate need at the time involved working with MF&RS’s legal team to resolve the issues of financial liability with the carrier in each instance.

The Result

As required by MF&RS, all station transitions to temporary locations and back out to their permanent new build were completed on time with no delays for the building contractor, fire fighters or project.

In May and June 2011, three fire stations carried out a successful transition into their temporary locations. In each case, telent engineering staff commissioned station end mobilising systems in the purpose built temporary units successfully and without delay. A fourth station remained in its existing location until the new station was built on the opposite side if the site. In Summer 2012, a further three stations moved to temporary locations while the original four transitioned to new locations and in Summer 2013, the final three stations moved from their temporary locations into the new ones, completing the project.

“I’m delighted to announce that we have successfully completed the project to move seven fire stations to their new locations complete with state of the art technology refresh’ Ed Franklin, Head of Technology at MFRA. ‘This was a substantial project and we were careful to ensure the community only benefited positively- our key objective, that of ensuring that no calls were missed during the transition was met, disturbance to the local community was minimal and the project met both time and cost deadlines’

“As ever, when working with building contractors we needed to avoid delays at all costs” commented Glenn Birtwistle, telent’s Project Manager for MFRA. “However when dealing with operational fire stations, the importance of right first time, on time was even more critical, both financially to the Authority and in terms of public safety for the community of Merseyside.”

Colin Schofield, Regional Project Director responsible for all 16 new stations across the regions added “The work carried out by telent on the Merseyside stations went extremely well and their engineers dealt with all the issues that arose. It was imperative that the work was done quickly & efficiently in a short window of opportunity to ensure the building works were not delayed and I’m delighted to say that telent fulfilled all their obligations in this regard.”

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