Ohio city deploys Firetide mesh
System integrator KingOffice Service used Firetide’s wireless mesh nodes to build a network in Mansfield, Ohio, a city of more than 50,000 residents. The roughly $80,000 project was deployed to support the transmission of data between the city’s firehouses and other city buildings, said Dan Evans, KingOffice’s account systems consultant.
Prior to the deployment, firefighter incident reports on calls and training were handwritten or typed. Then, data were transmitted over 56 kb/s data links and T1 lines. Evans believed the resulting slow transmission speed and costs associated with leasing equipment and service could be eliminated by a wireless mesh installation. Based on that belief, KingOffice replaced the entire system and deployed a scalable 4.9 GHz mesh network using Firetide’s HotPort 6000 access points.
The access points—or mesh nodes—use Ethernet connectivity over a self-forming wireless mesh backbone for indoor, outdoor or mobile use. They provide 70 Mb/s throughput, operate at 2.4 GHz, 4.9 GHz or 5 GHz and come equipped with either 400 mW single or dual radios. Evans said the system links fire stations to the local hospital and the rest of the city network in addition to giving firefighters Internet and e-mail access.
“It’s all digital, and every call, every run for legal purposes is recorded,” he said. “The Firetide mesh lets [the Mansfield fire department] transmit data from the actual workstation, instead of writing it up on the work stations, collecting the data and putting it on the server after the fact.”
The first two phases of the wireless mesh project replaced data links at Mansfield’s four remote fire stations and a T1 line to the city’s garage complex. It took more than four months in a multi-phase plan to install the network, which consists of self-healing nodes installed in each firehouse. In addition, a 185-foot tower houses a node that resends the signal. It is powered at the base using power over Ethernet, a system that transmits electrical power and data to remote devices over a standard twisted-pair cable. Evans said the city owns all of the equipment as well, which reduces annual operational costs.
Work is currently underway on phases 3 and 4 of the deployment, which will connect the rescue squads’ computers to the mesh network and let the city control traffic signals, Evans said.