M2ZSF is the Home Office allocated Radio Call Sign for Tayside Fire Brigade's Control Room. Over the radio control call themselves Fire Control on all transmissions.

The Control Room is the heart of the Brigade and like the human body the Brigade could not function without it.




1975                                    Controls at Blackness Road, Dundee (1969) and Perth (date?).

1979                                    Blackness Road, Dundee.

1994?                                  Separate Building at MacAlpine Road, Dundee.                              Photo


Officer in Charge


                                            1978            SCO J. B. S. Mcfarlane





 1978 (Dundee only)             1 Senior Control Operator

                                            2 Leading Control Operators

                                            16 Control Operators


1979 (Blackness Road)        4 Senior Control Operators

                                            4 Leading Control Operators

                                            8 Control Operators
(Overall establishment of 18 to cover for training, illness and holidays)


1991                                    1 Fire Control Officer

                                            4 Senior Control Operators

                                            4 Leading Control Operators

                                            9 Control Operators


8th January 1979 centralisation of the control at Perth along with the other control into a single Control Room at Blackness Road.

The present Command and Control Centre at MacAlpine Road has three operating positions and one supervisory position plus a training room.


Perth fire control room moving to Dundee
By Les Stewart

The Perth control room of Tayside Fire Brigade’s “B” Division, which covers a large slice of Perthshire, is to be centralised in Dundee “sometime in December”, Firemaster Alfred Jones said yesterday.
The final date will depend on the installation and testing of new communications equipment.
An integral part of the change over will be the scrapping of the outdated sirens which at present warn firemen in “B” Division’s 10 retained and three volunteer stations of an emergency.
Instead, the men will be issued with pocket alerters which they will be able to carry about with them at all times. The “bleepers”, which cost £200 each, will have a radius of five miles from their triggering station.
Firemaster Jones said that the centralisation was part of a £180,000 scheme covering the whole of Tayside. The first phase, covering most of Angus, was completed in May.
He added that “when completed, they would have a centralised control and communications system based at Blackness Road, Dundee.
“This will mean that the public will get a more cost effective and efficient service,” he said.
There are approximately nine people working in the Perth control at the moment. All the permanent staff there have been offered jobs in Dundee.
At a recent meeting of the general purposes committee of Tayside Regional Council’s police and fire committee, a rank structure for the centralised control was agreed.
This will be four senior control operators, four leading control operators and eight control operators, making a total of 16, with an overall establishment of 18 to cover for training, illness and holidays.
(Perthshire Advertiser, Date 1978)

New control centre for fire brigade HQ 

A new command and control centre for Tayside Fire Brigade is to be built in the grounds of Dundee headquarters at a cost of almost £2 million, writes our local Government reporter.
Tayside’s police and fire committee yesterday unanimously approved a report by Firemaster Derek Marr outlining proposals for the new facility.
Mr Marr said the Tayside Brigade operates a centralised control system whereby all emergency calls are received in the control room at Blackness Road headquarters.
Emergency calls are received via a British Telecom AD9000 system and the details of the incident are entered into a computer which logs the call and defines the relevant resources to attend.
Control room staff then alert full time staff via a British Telecom Solent callout system and retained personnel by pocket alerter.
These procedures are carried out manually.
Mr Marr said the disadvantages of the system were that: the manual operation of a number of functions delayed mobilising of firefighting appliances; there is more likelihood of operator error; the present system does not conform to Home Office guidelines on the next generation of mobilising and communication systems.
British Telecom have now ceased production of the Solent/AD9000 system.
The Tayside Brigade’s present control room was commissioned in 1969 to meet the needs of the then Angus Area Fire Brigade.
Although it has been upgraded twice since then and is able to meet the needs of the brigade at present, Mr Marr said it is considered too restricted in area and lacking many of the facilities incorporated in modern control rooms.
The regional council’s director of property services has recommended that a new control centre be built in the headquarters’ grounds thereby releasing the existing control room for office accommodation.
Mr Marr said the preferred options were installation of a complete computer-based command and control system in a new purpose-built control centre and equipment room coupled with use of the present control room for offices.
He said it was not possible to give other that an estimated cost for the work as the brigade would require to go to competitive tender.
However, a total cost of £1,970,000 was indicated.
The council’s financial plan 1990/96 contains an allowance of £1,670,000 for the project and Mr Marr recommended that the committee agree to adjust the revised capital estimates to take account of the additional cost.
(Courier and Advertiser, Wednesday, March 6, 1991.)



Early next year Tayside Fire brigade’s new command and control system goes ‘on stream’ .Work on the new system, to be housed in purpose built Control Headquarters in Dundee, began in 1986 and is described in this paper.


Tayside’s new command and control system features latest technology

Faced with the growing obsolescence of existing equipment and the need to integrate command. control and management information systems. Tayside Fire Brigade realised in 1986 that the time had come to reappraise all aspects of communications, electronic data acquisition and transmission and the necessary accommodation.
Pre-planning started then and in 1989 a project team consisting of brigade personnel with input from regional council support departments was set up to consider the way forward.
In addition to the growing obsolescence of communications equipment and mobilising software the current control accommodation, which was opened in 1970. was originally designed to house VF system A and card index cabinets. It was therefore totally unsuitable for a modern computerised command and control system.
Tayside Fire Brigade protects an area of some 3,000 square miles with a population in the region of 392,000. There are six wholetime stations, 15 retained and four volunteer with an establishment of 409 wholetime, 298 retained and 38 volunteer officers and firefighters. The brigade deals with approximately 15,000 emergency calls per year and this is rising in line with current trends.

Purpose-built structure

It was decided that the new command and control system would be housed in a purpose-built building adjacent to a wholetime fire station and divisional headquarters in Dundee.
This building was designed to accommodate the latest command and control, communications and management information systems and provide scope for future upgrading. It incorporates facilities for management of major disasters and protracted incidents in addition to modern facilities for fire control staff.
Following the production of a detailed operational requirement by the project team, tenders were invited for the replacement command and control system in early 1992. After extensive discussion and evaluation of the proposals from interested companies a short list of three was drawn up from whom detailed tenders were sought.
Following further appraisal the contract was awarded in March 1993 to Fortek Computers Ltd of Gosport who will act as the prime contractor for the supply of software and hardware and assume responsibility for the management of the entire project.
As the prime contractor, it will be responsible for all sub contractors, which for this bid includes the major manufacturers British Telecom, Philips Communications Systems, Multitone Communication Systems, Cyfas Restbury International and ASC Telecom.

Value of contract

The contract, valued at £1.3 million, will provide Tayside with Fortek’s Fires III central mobilising and GIS systems and, the Philips DX3000 integrated switch for its new Control Headquarters at Macalpine Road, Dundee.
Tayside will also be installing the latest out station computer equipment to all its stations with Kilostream networks to the wholetime stations and radio bearer to retained stations.
The control room has four main objectives:
•               To receive emergency calls.
•               To mobilise the most suitable operational resources to an incident as quickly as possible.
•               To provide information in support to the operational resources dealing with the incident.
•               To provide and maintain up to date relevant information.
The system to be installed comprises a number of key elements:
1 Command and control system.
2 Telephone/radio call handling system.
3 Communications network.
4 Fire station callout equipment.
5 Resource availability display.
6 Paging systems.
7 Geographical information system.
8 Digital voice logging.
The Fires III system will provide the incident receipt, dispatch, logging and monitoring facilities as specified by the brigade and mobilise resources at out stations. The GIS system will interface to the mobilising system and give a visual representation of the region showing complete resource locations, which will be automatically updated in the computer as the incident progresses.
At the heart of the system the hardware configuration proposed for the central mobilising system is a dual ICL DRS6000 Spark/Risk model L440 running Unix version 5.4. The system is modular in design, providing flexible interface to existing facilities and allows for the addition of new facilities as demanded by future changes to the brigade’s operational requirements.
The configurations proposed offer a high degree of resilience and an upgrade path that will cater for all the projected increases in the brigade’s workload and capabilities to support the future enhancements likely to be required during the lifetime of the system.
The operator/supervisor’s interface will be via a powerful 486.33 MHz Compaq PCs. In addition to providing a comfortable human computer interface, these workstations will afford the brigade enormous flexibility to evolve operating procedures with the minimum of impact on users. The integrated communication systems (ICCS) proposed is the DX3000 ‘touch screen’ system supplied by Philips. This equipment encompasses the most recent advantages in digital technology and is compliant with the Home Office C3 specification.
The ICCS software switch is a central component in the proposed integrated radio, telephony and communications network.
The DX3000 switch will interface with the brigade’s existing multi-channelled FM radio system with minimal disruption and equipment alterations and will interface to the proposed BT Kilostream digital network via standard terminations.

Latest technology

The latest touch-screen surface acoustic wave technology is used for the operator’s work station to provide a simple but reliable user interface for all radio and telephone circuits. The screen presentation is designed to meet the twin objectives of operational efficiency with the minimum operator fatigue.
A key factor of the DX3000 is its modular design which will enable the future expansion and system enhancement to be carried out without the need for major operation interruption. To safeguard against any failure in the switch an independent fallback system is proposed which provides full control over the radio and telephone using conventional PBX consoles and an M87 radio controller unit.
The proposed communications network is the British Telecom Kilostream with channels between the command and control centre and all six of the wholetime operational stations. The Kilostream network will provide three functions between all wholetime stations:
• Transfer of mobilisating data.
• Transfer of administrative data.
• Desk to desk telephony between all whole-time stations and departments.
The primary communication bearer to the retained stations will be the brigade’s existing radio network with hard copy printers supplying the address of the incidents. Linked with the station equipment will be industry-standard PC being supplied by Fortek with its out station software which will implement the recently specified Home Office communications protocols for mobilising messages. The PC configured with industrial-standard communication and interface cards will be capable of controlling and monitoring all station equipment used for mobilising appliances and crews and interrogating the MIS side of the central computing systems.
It is intended that this will be developed in the future to carry out administrative functions by linking all meetings to brigade and divisional headquarters.
The Multitone Firecoder alert system will operate the tone pagers at retained stations with senior officers using Multitone alpha-numeric pagers on a wide area paging system which covers the whole of the Tayside Region. This allows officers to travel anywhere within the region and still be easily contactable by fire control -
The maintenance of most of the equipment will be carried out by Tayside Region’s radio workshops and the Department of Information Processing Services who will continue to provide a 24-hour service to the brigade throughout the year.
It is hoped the new computerised command and control system will go live early in 1994, and take the brigade through into the 21st Century.
(Fire magazine, Scottish Feature, August 1993. Page 16.)


If you know of any mistakes in this or have any additional information please let me know.



MAIN INDEX                         1975 INDEX                         TAYSIDE INDEX