It will be interesting to see if the system will be available in the remote areas where most large wildland fires occur.
“FirstNet and the Fire Service
WHAT IS FIRSTNET?
The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 created the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) as an independent authority within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to provide emergency responders with the first high‐speed wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety. The FirstNet network will be a single, nationwide long term evolution (LTE) network that makes it easier for public safety users to communicate during emergencies and on the job every day. Think of the FirstNet network as a bigger, more reliable, secure and resilient wireless data network. This new network will provide faster access to information and wireless coverage where fire personnel need it most.
WHAT WILL BE POSSIBLE WITH THE FIRSTNET NETWORK?
The FirstNet network will enable faster, better coordinated response to natural and manmade disasters. Just as smartphones have changed personal lives, FirstNet devices and applications will ultimately change the way career firefighters and volunteers operate. Imagine a day when one interoperable communications network can be used to dispatch an extrication team, a medical helicopter, police and EMS personnel from diﬀerent jurisdictions all at the same time. Fire personnel using the FirstNet network will be able to share images, applications, and access to databases to have a common operational picture as incidents unfold.
FirstNet’s goal is to provide public safety‐grade reliability and extensive coverage so fire personnel can count on the network when they are on the job. FirstNet is also aiming to provide coverage solutions that let fire personnel “take the network along” to their destination in certain geographies. Incident commanders and local oﬃcials will have local control over the network so, for example, they can assign users and talk groups and determine who can access applications.
When the FirstNet network launches, it will provide mission‐critical, high‐speed data services to supplement the voice capabilities of today’s land mobile radio (LMR) networks. Initially, the FirstNet network will be used for sending data, video, images and text. The FirstNet network will also carry location information and eventually support streaming video. In time, FirstNet plans to oﬀer voice over LTE (VoLTE).
WHY WAS FIRSTNET CREATED?
After 9/11, the public safety community fought hard to fulfill the 9/11 Commission’s last standing recommendation and lobbied Congress to pass legislation establishing a dedicated, reliable network for advanced data communications nationwide. During emergencies, fire personnel need priority access and preemption, which are not available on commercial networks.
HOW WILL THE FIRSTNET NETWORK BENEFIT THE FIRE SERVICE?
Using the FirstNet network will greatly improve situational awareness and keep fire personnel safer with an improved communications capability. It will make it possible to gain quick access to new tools and applications that provide location data and other vital information for firefighting. The FirstNet network will enable the exchange of real‐time data and audio/video feeds on the fireground to assist incident commanders with operational decision‐making and maximize search and rescue and suppression effectiveness.
WHAT WILL USERS PAY FOR FIRSTNET’S SERVICES?
FirstNet intends to oﬀer services at a compelling and competitive cost to attract millions of public safety users and make FirstNet self‐sustaining. The use of FirstNet’s services and applications will be voluntary. The costs for FirstNet’s services and devices have not yet been set.
HOW CAN MY LOCAL AGENCY PARTICIPATE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE
FirstNet is responsible for working through the designated state single points of contact (SPOC) to consult with states, local communities, tribal governments, and first responders to gather requirements for developing its network deployment plans. Fire personnel can provide input to FirstNet via the outreach eﬀorts being coordinated by the SPOC in each state. To identify the SPOC for a state and let them know you are interested, go to http://firstnet.gov/consultation . Fire personnel may also want to contact members of the FirstNet Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) and participate in outreach discussions at professional association meetings and conferences. More information regarding the PSAC and its membership is available at http://firstnet.gov/about/public-safety-advisory-committee. To stay up-to-date on FirstNet activities, fire personnel can track progress at www.firstnet.gov.”