Alternative Wireless Solutions for Fire Departments


In June, 2002, the conference of State Ministers of the Interior of the German länder will disscuss the founding of an interstate network for the country’s civil defence agencies and organizations (Behörden und Organisationen mit Sicherheitsaufgaben, BOS). In March, e*Message took part in an advisory committee on this topic. e*Message offers an appropriate infrastructure for such a network right now, as well as advanced solutions for the security and emergency agencies, including alerting systems for fire departments and civil defence services.

Alternative Wireless Solutions for Fire Departments

On June 5 and 6, Germany’s State Ministers of the Interior will discuss the development of the most effective alerting systems for the country’s security agencies. A homogeneous digital wireless network that allows all civil defence agencies and organizations to respond rapidly is to be in place for the football World Cup tournament in Germany in 2006, and subsequently expanded. The regional and local agencies currently use heterogeneous analogue systems.


A large-scale test project using the TETRA technology was launched in Aachen in July, 2001. It met the basic specifications for the future nationwide network, but disappointed fire departments: indoor reception is poor, and alarm messages cannot be received in spaces with sensitive equipment, such as hospitals, where two-way communication is prohibited. Moreover, small, cheap receivers with long battery life are currently not available for the Aachen project.

No One-way Street in New Digital Network

The solution proposed to the advisory committee in March opens long-term perspectives. e*Message is able right now – not in 2006 – to provide a range of rapid and reliable alerting services for fire departments. The costs for infrastructure and receivers are just a fraction of those for other solutions. More than three quarters of the future network’s users would be volunteer firefighters, who could be alerted using e*Message pagers. During a press conference held recently in Hanover, Dr Dietmar Gollnick, CEO Europe and Chairman of the Executive Board of e*Message Deutschland, emphasized that the TETRA and TETRAPOL trunked radio systems are not ready yet. “Developing a new security radio network requires time and money – too much of both for most of the German states. Right now, e*Message offers a modern infrastructure, short alerting delays and excellent indoor reception. Because we are rooted in Germany and France, we consider ourselves particularly responsible for developing new solutions that are secure in the long term and meet the European standards. The new digital network should be affordable, and not a one-way street.”

Civil Defence Survey Confirms Pagers as Optimal Solution

e*Message’s network was digitalized in 2000, shortly after the founding of the company, and is used day in and day out by thousands of satisfied professional users. It includes some 800 powerful terrestrial stations that transmit messages using the same POCSAG technology that is already used by security agencies in Germany. The licence for the 460 MHz band that was granted to e*Message last year by the German Telecom Regulation Authority (Reg TP) is valid until at least 2013. The advantages of e*Message’s network for German agencies, and fire departments in particular, include the following:

  • No costs for network planning, development and operation, since e*Message's infrastructure is available now with nationwide coverage
  • Tailored solutions for every local and regional agency
  • Low message latency
  • Excellent indoor reception
  • Reception in hospitals, server rooms, nuclear power plants and other places with sensitive equipment
  • Security services have direct access to the alerting network from PCs
  • Low-price acoustic or alphanumerical receivers, including network service
  • Improvement of current alerting procedures; advanced digital wireless solution
  • Alerting network can be integrated with the voice/data network as a complementary medium, now and in the future.
  • Redundancy for maximum reliability

The optimum solution for the security agencies – that is, the most reliable, the least expensive and the most flexible – is a combination of digital trunked radio (TETRA or TETRAPOL) and the e*Message infrastructure.

The advantages of e*Message’s alternative solutions were confirmed in a survey published in 2001 by the German Central Civil Defence Agency, which stated that pagers were “an optimum solution for alerting individuals.”

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