Keeping up to date with emerging technologies can be critical when it comes to successful emergency response, and that is exactly what Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service (HIWFRS) kept in mind when designing their state-of-the-art Incident Command Unit (ICU). This vehicle, based on a Volvo double crew cab chassis with a box back, is a testament to HIWFRS’s commitment to improving emergency response and utilising decades of experience.

A vehicle designed for the future

The HIWFRS Incident Command Unit has been carefully crafted, drawing upon the lessons learned over the last 20 years. The vehicle is more than just a mode of transportation; it’s a cutting-edge command centre on wheels.

Let’s take a closer look at its features and capabilities in this short video.

Vehicle overview

At the front of the unit, there is a command space where HIWFRS commanders can oversee and manage emergency incidents with precision and speed.

In the rear, a crew area provides a comfortable workspace for the dedicated response team. This area serves as a hub for collaboration and communication, ensuring that the team operates efficiently.

Bringing technology to the forefront

One of the standout features of HIWFRS’ ICU is its technological capability. The unit is equipped with a sophisticated IT platform that transforms the way information is managed and shared during emergency incidents.

The ICU seamlessly integrates all available information and situational awareness data into its digital systems. This ensures that every bit of data relevant to an incident is accessible and ready for analysis.

Large screens placed both inside and outside the vehicle present the data in a user-friendly dashboard format. This visual presentation allows for quick and effective decision-making.

HIWFRS’ ICU has the capability to share a variety of information sources at the push of a button. Thanks to the Excelerate DDMI platform, this process is as simple as it gets. The Excelerate DDMI platform is a game-changer for the HIWFRS Incident Command Unit. This technology gives the user the ability to control the vehicle deployment and AV system through one interface.Simply pressing one button deploys vital systems like the pneumatic mast, satellite, and power systems, and ensures that operators can get to work rapidly, focusing on the mission at hand.

The vehicle is also equipped with various communication technologies, including satellite connectivity and an Excell 4G LTE antenna, ensuring uninterrupted communication even in remote environments.

The ultimate command platform

The ICU is more than just a high-tech vehicle; it’s a platform for HIWFRS commanders to access the information they need for safe and efficient incident management. The unit’s connectivity enables real-time sharing of situational awareness data with other agencies, headquarters, and senior commanders. This enhanced communication ensures that everyone has access to the information they need when they need it.

Built for what lies ahead

The HIWFRS Incident Command Unit is deployed for incidents involving five or more fire appliances or what is referred to as a “level two incident.” These situations can range from high-rise fires to large-scale building blazes.

The ICU’s capabilities were particularly evident during the summer when Hampshire faced a spate of wildfires. In these scenarios, the vehicle played a crucial role in providing aerial overviews and mapping information. This data empowered HIWFRS commanders and wildfire tactical advisors to allocate resources more effectively.

The ICU leverages digital platforms and internet connectivity to access up-to-the-minute weather information, helping determine the optimal time to commence firefighting. These plans and resources are shared back to wildfire advisors and senior officers at headquarters, facilitating a coordinated and efficient response.

Leveraging technology for emergency response

The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service’s Incident Command Unit represents a remarkable fusion of experience, cutting-edge technology, and a commitment to serving the community. With this advanced command centre on wheels, HIWFRS is better equipped than ever to protect lives, property, and the environment during emergencies. The ICU is a shining example of how technology and experience can join forces to protect the public in the face of disaster.

Station Commander, Michael Carpenter said “The new ICU has significantly improved our response coordination and situational awareness, making it an essential asset in our emergency management toolkit. Excelerate’s expertise and collaborative approach were instrumental in seamlessly integrating cutting-edge technology into the vehicle, enhancing our emergency response capabilities. The result is a state-of-the-art unit that has significantly elevated our ability to command and coordinate during emergencies.”
Chief Operating Officer Bethan Evans commented, “We were thrilled to work with our long-standing customer HIWFRS on their new ICU, and to contribute to the enhancement of their emergency response capabilities. This project stands as a testament to our ongoing commitment to providing cutting-edge solutions for those on the front lines of emergency management.”