Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) technology has been successfully trialled across South Australian fire management vehicles, helping to provide real-time tracking abilities which will improve fireground intelligence during bushfires.

Country Fire Service (CFS), State Emergency Services (SES) and Department for Environment and Water (DEW) vehicles were recently fitted with AVL, with the technology forming part of the State Government’s $97.5 million plan to create a more bushfire resilient South Australia. AVL implementation into the emergency services sector has been recommended since 2012.

Minister for Emergency Services, Vincent Tarzia, said $5 million was committed to trial AVL technology and develop a business case for the full rollout ahead of the 2021/22 bushfire season.

“Field trials put different technologies to the test and the Marshall Government is excited to see AVL rolled out, boosting response capability during bushfires,” Mr Tarzia said.

“The trials started last month and took place in the Mount Lofty Ranges, on Kangaroo Island, West Coast, Yorke Peninsula, Far North and South East.

“Recent bushfire-hit locations at Lucindale and Cherry Gardens also featured in the field trials to gather data from partially active firegrounds.

“AVL is the future of fighting bushfires in South Australia and will allow us to pinpoint the location of any asset, anytime and anywhere to the second. AVL boosts safety by allowing us to keep a watchful eye over our hardworking CFS and SES volunteers and staff during bushfires.”

AVL will be installed in more than 1,400 vehicles following completion of a tender process. It will be used in CFS, SES and DEW fire management assets during bushfires and other emergency incidents that occur in metropolitan Adelaide and regional South Australia.

SAFECOM Chief Executive, Dom Lane, said the AVL project team travelled to Kangaroo Island and covered numerous satellite only areas in remote parts to test connectivity.

“Key outcomes of the trials were to test the solutions and validate their ability to failover from cellular to satellite in difficult coverage locations,” Mr Lane said.

The Upper Sturt CFS Brigade, which responded to the Cherry Gardens fire, was the first group to test AVL on 28 January 2021.

CFS Deputy Chief Officer, Andrew Stark, said, “The past weeks of trials have provided us with great opportunities to test the ruggedness of the AVL units in various, challenging conditions to ensure we get the best fit for our brigades across the state.”

AVL was fitted to a 24P (2000L 4WD pumper) and vehicles belonging to the CFS, SES and DEW.

The project team also travelled to Wottons Scrub and ran through various testing scenarios while the software was viewed and analysed from the SES Netley base.

“SES volunteers and staff have actively participated in these trials and are looking forward to the enhanced situational awareness and safety that AVL will bring,” SES Deputy Chief Officer, Dermot Barry, said.

The first CFS vehicle travelled to the South East, Berri, Naracoorte, Mt Gambier and Ngarkat National Park. The vehicle then moved to Kangaroo Island, while the SES vehicle travelled to Maitland and Coober Pedy.

The second CFS vehicle travelled to Port Augusta, Port Lincoln, Streaky Bay, Port Augusta and then to Adelaide via Willington.

Paul Fletcher, Deputy Chief Officer of MFS, noted the AVL project as having the potential to expand the MFS’ existing AVL capability.

“Through this solution, we hope to improve the MFS’ connectivity in non-satellite areas across the state,” Mr Fletcher said.

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