NZ Fire Service, Motorola, Spark team to develop firefighter breathing-mask radio

Motorola Solutions and the New Zealand Fire Service have developed a new two-way radio for fire fighters.

The radio’s microphone built into firefighter breathing apparatus. Each radio also has a push-to-talk button positioned centrally on the body.This means firefighters can operate it through thick rubber gloves with a clenched fist or fingers.

It’s a unique design that allows firefighters to communicate easily and safely while in action.

Motorola Solutions says the unit’s performance under very extreme testing for heat, cold and audio performance is exceptional. The heat testing, in particular, exceeded specifications by around 25 percent.

NZ developed

The radio was co-developed by Motorola Solutions with the New Zealand Fire Service to meet the organisation’s specific user requirements. Motorola’s Australian-based team members worked on the project with the New Zealand team in the field.

Motorola Solutions says it hopes to roll out the technology globally.

Spark New Zealand also worked with Motorola Solutions teamed on the project. The pair won a sizable deal that will see Motorola give 4500 firefighter radios. Spark will handle the back-up support including service management and a customer help desk.

Motorola and Spark have a five-year contract for the radios. It also includes provisions for other government agencies should that want to use the radio technology. This could improve on-the-ground co-operation between, say, firefighters and police officers.

Exacting requirements

Paul Baxter, CEO of the New Zealand Fire Service, says his organisation had exacting requirements for the radios.

He says: “Communication is critical to safety on the incident ground, and much of that communication comes from the use of incident ground control (IGC) radio.

“The radios will help us to resolve radio interface issues with firefighters’ breathing apparatus while also delivering improved noise cancellation and battery life.”

The radios use a combination of single and multi-band radios operating across both VHF and UHF bands.

Baxter says: “This radio solution enables us to move away from using a mix of models and frequencies and toward a nationally consistent standard that will make it easier to work with our emergency service partners”.

Spark Digital CEO Tim Miles says: “Radios are life-saving tools for our emergency services, and great team communication can be the difference between a managed incident and a disaster. We are very proud to play a part in improving the on-ground experience for our Kiwi Fire Service heroes.”

NZ Fire Service, Motorola, Spark team to develop firefighter breathing-mask radio was first posted at billbennett.co.nz

An earlier version of this story said the mask was believed to be a world first. That reference has now  been removed. 

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