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Fires - essential emergency communication system was out of action for 9,000 hours last year

fireBombeirosSmallThe SIRESP communication network, essential during emergencies such as the fires that swept across Portugal last summer, was out of action for a total of 9,000 hours last year.
The network is relied on as the only emergency communication system between the various security forces and fire-fighting commanders but spectacularly failed last year, just when it most was needed.
With a total of 375 days downtime logged across the various SIRESP systems in use, its useful inclusion in this year’s planned deployment of resources and systems again will be questioned by those reliant on its trouble-free functioning.
The Minister of Internal Administration admitted in parliament today that the Integrated System of Emergency and Security Networks of Portugal (SIRESP) was unavailable for 9,000 hours in 2017
"The survey that was done points to nine thousand hours of unavailability of the SIRESP network in 2017," said Eduardo Cabrita, answering increasing concerns about the government’s readiness for the next fire season.
"SIRESP is a single system, based on a single, national, shared infrastructure that ensures the satisfaction of the communication needs of the emergency and security forces and services, satisfying intercommunication and interoperability between those forces and services and, in case of emergency, allows the centralisation of command and coordination," reads the SIRESP website.
The minister noted that 451 new antennas are being installed by the company, in those areas considered to be at greater risk of fire and additional mobile SIRESP units "already have been acquired."
One of the problems with SIRESP is that it relies on land based connectivity via fixed masts which fail when damaged by fire. This basic fault in the logic has long been the focus of complaint from the fire service.
SIRESP management earlier stated that its system, "lived up to the complexity of the theatre of operations," when questioned about communication black-outs during last summer’s fires which killed around 110 people.
The private company that manages the state's emergency communications network, says that "there was no interruption in the operation of the network." If this is so, the emergency system failed for 9,000 hours when not in use.
According to the Civil Protection agency, on the first day of the fire in Pedrógão Grande there were at least five serious situations in which the command post could not be contacted because of communications failures but the company insists the SIRESP "matched the complexity of the theatre of operations, ensuring communications and interoperability of emergency and security forces," despite this not being the case.
Of the communications towers that were damaged by the fire, the company says that the system is duplicated to help communications to function even in "extreme situations" such as at Pedrógão Grande. This duplication relies on the availability of mobile units which were not on site in time last summer.
"It is demonstrated that the SIRESP Network worked according to the architecture that was designed for this network," read the company's glowing report into its own performance.
SIRESP costs taxpayers €40 million a year, part of which is dished out in dividends, 2016’s distribution to shareholders was €6.67 million.
SIRESP's largest shareholder is Galilei, the now insolvent and always controversial property company, left twitching in the wreckage of bust bank BPN.
Galilei owns 33% of SIRESP, PT (owned by Altice) has a 30.55% share, Motorola, which provided the inadequate technology, has 14.9%, 9,55% is held by Datacomp, and Esegur (owned by Caixa Geral de Depósitos and Novo Banco) has 12%.
The government seems to be continuing with the SIRESP contract with upgraded systems only able to be live tested when people’s lives are at risk.
On October 2017, the government announced it was to become a shareholder of SIRESP SA. This was disingenuous as the State already controls the SIRESP SA shareholders Galilei and Datacomp and aimed to convert debt into shares to control 42.55% of the company at a cost of €8 million.
The plan was to take full State control "as soon as practicable," so the government can "play an increased role in the development and management of this emergency network."
A good first step has been the admission that SIRESP systems were inoperable for 9,000 hours last year - the only way is up.
Regarding the dud Kamov helicopter purchase, Eduardo Cabrita announced that the company that maintains the helicopters has been notified to pay default charges as none of the six machines is able to fly.
"The company responsible for the maintenance of the Kamovs has been notified to pay penalties for defaults in 2017 and 2018, amounting to close to €4 million.
"That is the extent of the repeated contractual breaches," said Cabrita
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0 #5 Denby 2018-04-05 08:04
Why is the communication system in the hands of private operator's, the 40 million Euros should be used to move this system to the domain of the police force and the fire service's. It can then be centralised and the emergency services will have control over this vital part of security in the country.
0 #4 Ed 2018-04-05 05:54
Quoting Maximillian:
"systems were inoperable for 9,000 hours last year" 9000 hours = 375 days. How's that possible in one year?
Anything is possible when it comes to emergency comms systems - there are multiple SIRESP units, not just one, so the downtime of each has been added up to give the 9,000 hrs figure..
0 #3 Dymo 2018-04-04 20:32
This is total unbelievable. .... seems no one knows what's going on..... and lives have been lost over all this ..... now 6 helicopter purchased and not in operation. It reads as a total joke...
+2 #2 Maximillian 2018-04-04 19:38
"systems were inoperable for 9,000 hours last year" 9000 hours = 375 days. How's that possible in one year?
0 #1 Mutley 2018-04-04 19:16
So I got the old calculator out. 9000 hours is the equivalent of 375 days. They probably needed 10 days to count the money they made. Anyway, now that I stored my firewood 50 meters from my house, I will not need the fire brigade.

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