After so many public safety personnel died during the September 11, 2001 attacks, major studies were conducted to determine how incident management could be improved. One primary problem identified was the lack of communications between disparate public safety agencies. Contrary to popular belief, most firefighters do not have the ability to speak directly on their radios to a police officer standing next to them at the same incident.
Beavercreek Township identified the need to improve communications throughout its public safety response area, and began to study methods of encumbering funds to implement a solution. In 2003, Beavercreek Township Fire Department's IT Division designed, implemented, and configured a complex four-node, eleven-county InterOperability System (IOS) for use by Beavercreek Fire Department and its neighboring agencies. The funds for this project were procured through an Assistance to Firefighter Grant in the amount of $670,000. Completed in 2004, IOS provides unparallel interoperability (the ability to allow dissimilar radio systems to talk to each other) for public safety agencies surrounding Beavercreek Township Fire Department.
IOS uses computers, radios, and software to intelligently control and link disparate radio systems used throughout the Miami Valley. Among other vendors, Beavercreek Township's IOS is made up of Catalyst Communications software, JPS ACU-1000 hardware, M/A-COM & EF Johnson radio equipment, and standard rackmount Microsoft-based computers. Three static nodes and one mobile node provide redundant interoperability capabilities for Beavercreek. Since its implementation in 2004, the system has continued to grow, with additional capabilities added in 2007 to include Springfield (Clarke County). It continues to expand in size and scope as additional departments utilize its capabilities.
The IOS equipment is spread out through three fire stations within Beavercreek. The mobile equipment is portable, and currently resides in a Communications Unit. The mobile equipment has been used for multiple special events, including concerts and guest security details at Wright State's Nutter Center.
BC Hiester's responsibilities include the daily operations of communications equipment utilized by the Fire Department. He is involved in multiple radio and public safety communications committees within Greene & Montgomery County. IOS utilizes a software-based GUI for end users (dispatchers) to control. For larger incidents or when a NIMS IAP is required, Fire Department personnel and volunteer amateur radio technicians are dispatched as Communication Support Teams (CSTs) to activate and manage any portion of IOS. This provides flexibility for daily operations along with support for larger, multi-juridiction incidents. The map to the right depicts current interoperability capabilities between Montgomery County and Greene County systems using IOS. In addition, nine counties bordering the area also receive indirect interoperability.
lf you are interested in scheduling a time to view IOS, or would like to learn about Beavercreek's interoperability capabilities, please call Fire Administration at (937) 426-1213 for more information.