The Munster Regional Communications Centre is responsible for the efficient and effective mobilisation of fire appliances and other agencies within the Munster region.
- Regional Communications Centre Staff Structure
- Management Information Systems
- Technical System Information
Up to the early 1990s, emergency calls for Fire Services were routed directly to the local Station Officer’s home telephone by the local exchange. The Station Officer and his family were therefore responsible for all call-taking and mobilisation of the local fire crews.
In 1990, Limerick City Council, as lead Authority, initiated a project to establish a regional mobilisation and communications system on behalf of the Fire Authorities in Munster. This project was completed in 1993 and has been improved upon and expanded up to present time.
The Munster Regional Communications Centre is now part of a national network of three fire service mobilisation and communications centres, the others being in Castlebar, Co. Mayo and Dublin City, and reflects current best practice in all aspects of its activities, including its operational response, technology and management.
The Centre currently provides emergency call-taking and mobilisation services for seven local authority fire services in the Munster region:
- Clare County Council
- Cork City Council
- Cork County Council
- Kerry County Council
- Limerick City and County Council
- Tipperary County Council
- Waterford Council
Since its inception in 1992, the Centre has processed in excess of 500,000 calls, and now mobilises 65 retained and 4 fulltime fire stations in Munster. The Centre itself operates 24/7, 365 days a year, and employs a system of procedures to ensure that it operates to the highest possible standard. Approximately 26,000 999/112 emergency calls are answered and processed per annum in a speedy and efficient manner, so that the correct Fire Brigade is mobilised to an emergency incident in as efficient a manner as possible.
The Senior Executive Emergency Communications Officer has responsibility for the day to day management of the system. The system is implemented by a Project Manager and Executive Emergency Communications Officer, three Principal Emergency Communications Operators, five Senior Emergency Communications Operators, and fifteen Emergency Communications Operators.
The member Authorities pay the annual running costs of the Munster Regional Communications System. The costs are apportioned by way of an average of average formula agreed by the City and County managers, which consideres population, rateable evaluation and number of fire calls. The Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (An Roinn Tithíochta, Pleanála, Pobail agus Rialtais Áitiύil) funded the initial infrastructural costs of the system and continue to fund various capital projects from time to time.
The Communications Centre also provides management information resources and technology to the member authorities in terms of their service indicators and other areas which require analysis. Management Information Systems have also been developed for internal analysis of performance to aid in the process of continual improvement of the quality of service.
The first phase of the system was implemented by the project staff of Limerick City Fire Service and alerted 50 retained stations in Munster and one full time station in Limerick City. In addition 11 Fire Brigades outside the region were mobilised into the region. The Authorities mobilised by the system at that time were Limerick City, Limerick County, Clare County, Kerry County, Tipperary North, Tipperary South, and Waterford County. In addition the Regional Communications System also mobilised six Fire Stations in Cork County.
As the next phase of the project Cork County Fire Service agreed to become part of the Munster Regional Communications System. This was a major project as an additional 15 Fire Stations were connected to the existing system and this substantially increased the workload on call taking facilities. Also the complexities of the proposed integration of the Cork County Fire Service necessitated enhancement and improvement of the existing system. With this in mind Limerick City Council implemented a project to upgrade the system both in relation to the Command and Control Software, communications equipment and infrastructure. The facilities introduced to Cork County Fire Service represented a substantial upgrade of the old Communications System.
The remaining phase of the project started in mid-2003 and involved the installation of new communications equipment in six fire authorities; Kerry, North Tipperary, South Tipperary, Clare, Limerick County, and Waterford County Fire Authorities.
The project involved the implementation of the following technology modules:
- Private Mobile Radio – Central control and new base stations for the Waterford County, Limerick County, Clare, Kerry, North Tipperary, and South Tipperary fire authorities.
- Extension of Sub-Comms system – The installation of callout equipment in 44 fire stations.
- Network Infrastructure Design – Installation of a number of new microwave backbone links to support voice and data signalling between the control centre and all fire authorities in the Munster region.
- Centralised IT hardware platform – The upgrade of servers at control centre to support the completed network backbone.
Cork City were integrated into the system in May of 2005 and Waterford City in July 2006.
The Munster Regional Communications Centre (MRCC) supports an advanced telecommunications network across the region. The network was built in three distinctive phases.
The MRCC continues to innovate and has plans to adopt a range of emerging technologies such as digital radio systems, mobile applications and enterprise emergency call taking systems in the coming years.
The Munster Regional Communications System was awarded certification to the prestigious, internationally recognised ISO9001:2008 quality award by the National Standards Authority of Ireland in 2005. This certification was awarded across all areas of the systems operation, Operational incident processing, Finance, Training, Management Information Systems, Project Management etc. In 2006 the Centre underwent its first re-certification audit and successfully achieved recertification to the ISO90001:2008 quality management standard.
In 2006 the Centre’s quality management project was nominated for the European UDITE award for performance improvement. (UDITE is a European body made up of local Authority/Local Government organisations). Following an intensive national and European audit process the project finally finished in the top four UDITE European projects and received an award at the UDITE Congress in Malta. The project was also presented at the LGMSB’s Excellence in Public Service conference in Dublin in 2006.