NEW equipment fitted into fire engines across Berkshire will give firefighters vital information as they head for serious incidents.

Royal Berkshire Fire Authority has invested in new tablet devices and software.

The Mobile Data Terminals (MDTs) have been fitted in the front of every fire engine across Berkshire to provide relevant operational intelligence and risk information to crews.

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is one of the first to use The Dell Latitude tablet device alongside Airbus software together to send live status updates to the control room and other operational crews that are on their way or already at an incident. It will warn about chemicals stored on site, details about whether anyone is likely to be trapped, plus vital details to get the team straight to the site of the incident.

Councillor Angus Ross, strategic asset lead member for Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, said: “The Fire Authority has invested to change all the existing MDTs to this more agile device, which allows the crews instant access to information that is vital for rescues or firefighting.

“In addition, the MDTs also utilise the telecommunication system used when the fire engine is mobilised to an incident, meaning they can receive instant updates that can help the crew decide how to respond to an incident in advance of arrival, enabling them to work more efficiently and effectively.

“As well as providing a wealth of information that can support them on the way to and at an emergency, they can also now connect to Wi-Fi for system updates, providing technological advancements almost immediately and excellent value-for-money as previously, all updates had to be completed manually by one of RBFRS’ ICT Technicians."

Gary Thomas, Senior Communications Technical Support Officer, who led the project, said: “The MDTs are a great development for the Service and our firefighters are already reaping the benefits.

“In the future, we see other big advantages for firefighters in being able to use the devices. This includes firefighters being given instant travel directions to an emergency from the moment of mobilisation as well as, at a road traffic collision to identify important information about the safety features of a vehicle (such as airbags), so that they can quickly be turned off before releasing trapped passengers from the car. This will in turn, reduce the amount of technological devices that are stored on each fire engine.”