All three main emergency services will now use the O2 Airwave mobile wireless network to support their staff communications.
O2 has won a multi-million pound deal with the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) to provide a new voice and data communications system.
As well as providing encrypted communications and national roaming, the O2 system provides fire crews with separate mobile channels for emergency access, so if commercial mobile networks go down their communications will still get through.
The new FRS Firelink network is also designed to improve the quality of voice calls. The roll-out of the new system will begin next year and is set to be completed by 2009.
The O2 fire deal follows the contract won by the company to supply a communications system to the ambulance service earlier this year. The UK’s police forces also finished the roll-out of a £3bn O2 Airwave roll-out, this year – by far the largest of the three emergency services contracts won by O2.
All three systems for the emergency services will be integrated by O2 to ensure interoperability between networks and equipment during incidents.
Other government customers using Airwave include the Ministry of Defence and the Highways Agency.