Wednesday (May 27) marked the end of an era for Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service, as it became the date the department officially transitioned to E-Comm’s Wide-Area Radio Network.
Abbotsford firefighters began communicating over the P25 digital network today at 8:30 a.m. They become the 16th fire department in the Lower Mainland to become part of the E-Comm radio system. More than three dozen police, fire, ambulance and other public agencies are on the network – including the Abbotsford Police Department who joined in 2011.
“I’m pleased with Abbotsford’s new partnership with E-Comm,” said Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun, “Public safety is always at the front of mind for our community and this improved communication is a positive step for our community.”
“It’s critical for Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service to be able to communicate directly with our police and ambulance partners,” said Abbotsford Fire Chief Don Beer. “Now that we’re on the E-Comm system, we’re all able to talk with each other seamlessly when responding to multi-agency events like car crashes and large-scale hazmat incidents.”
Chief Beer also cited significant safety improvements through increased area coverage and audio quality as additional benefits of the radio transition, along with noise-cancelling technology to reduce background sounds and allow responders to be heard more clearly in noisy environments.
According to an E-Comm press release, the fully encrypted P25 network allows first responder communication to be kept extra secure. They also state that the privacy of the public, who are being assisted by emergency services, is better protected during the necessary transmittal of personal and private information over the voice network.
“Firefighters often work in challenging environments such as collapsing buildings, fire-engulfed structures and underground concrete spaces where radio coverage has traditionally been an issue,” added Oliver Grüter-Andrew, E-Comm President and CEO. “Being able to provide enhanced radio coverage and audio quality is a critical part in keeping our first responder partners safe.”
The addition of Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service to the E-Comm radio network continues the public safety partnership between E-Comm and the City of Abbotsford. E-Comm began providing fire dispatch services for Abbotsford on February 22, 2019. E-Comm has also been the first point of contact for 9-1-1 callers in Abbotsford since September 19, 2017, the same day the organization began providing dispatch services for the Abbotsford Police Department.
BC Emergency Health Services within Metro Vancouver and Abbotsford, all police agencies in Metro Vancouver and Abbotsford and 16 fire departments in Metro Vancouver use the E-Comm Wide-Area Radio Network. The network has about 10,000 activate or available radios. In 2019, firefighters, police officers and paramedics made 48.9 million transmissions on the network.