Radio Replacement Project Director Doug Booth says the kit provides more flexibility because radios can be easily transferred from vehicle to vehicle, and it does away with the current necessity to permanently install radios in CFA vehicles, such as those used by CFA group officers, captains and incident controllers. Importantly, it’s installed without needing to drill holes in vehicles and keeps the front seat free for passengers.
The radio and accessories fit in a compact carry bag with a webbing system to secure the unit, complete with seatbelt-style quick releases. It mounts behind the front seat of any car or ute. The kit is self-contained with its own loudspeaker, control head, mains power supply and cables. It also has a GPS unit and a magnetic-base roof-mounted antenna.
Developed by the Radio Replacement team of engineers at CFA HQ, the design of the transportable radio followed extensive consultation with brigade members and CFA field staff. Thorough electrical and mechanical testing of the prototype means that CFA members can have confidence in its reliability.
Doug says the contract for the assembly of the complete transportable radio unit has been won by C4i, which has appointed Victorian manufacturer Extel Technologies to assemble the product.
A total 2,000 transportable bag radios are being produced, of which around 250 willbe held as spares..
Extel, based in Mount Waverley, is assembling the Tait radios and other components on a metal chassis, and will produce around 300 a week.
The first of the radios have now been delivered for what Doug calls a “soft roll-out” in Districts 8 and 13.
“Teams of installers will provide training and a user guide on how the transportable bag radios are attached to the rear of the driver’s seat in a vehicle,” He says.
Following this roll-out, the teams will begin the first main distribution in District 18 in the state’s north-west – expected to be the first part of Victoria to introduce fire restrictions. The training and distribution teams will gradually move east to complete the roll-out by the end of November.
The installation teams will show CFA members how to install the transportable radio, operate it, and transfer from one vehicle to another. “These radios provide tremendous flexibility in that they can be quickly installed in a car, or unstrapped and set up on a table at an operational point in the field,” Doug says.
The new radios are unique in that the design and configuration was undertaken by CFA’s Radio Replacement Project team of engineers. “The prototype radios have gone through very considerable testing including drop, mechanical, vibration, and electrical safety testing, followed by a trial period in the field,” Doug adds.
The transportable kit with its Tait Mobile radio and hand-held control head connects to the vehicle power via the cigarette lighter socket, but can also be powered from the 230V/50Hz mains using a power supply lead or even from a standalone car battery via a 12V DC power cable. It can also be connected to an external loudspeaker, e.g. on the back of a ute, if needed.
A user guide and training package have also been prepared to help brigades.
To further assist members, an information and instruction training video is now available on Brigades Online.