Tait wins firefighting deal

BY BEN HEATHER
Last updated 05:00 06/07/2010

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Tait Radio Communications has secured a $39 million deal to supply Victoria's Country Fire Authority (CFA) with 10,000 radios to help fight bushfires.

Tait announced the deal, one of its biggest contracts, yesterday, after a competitive tender that ultimately saw the Christchurch company move in on a larger competitor's territory.

The contract will probably require the company to take on extra staff at its Christchurch headquarters, Brisbane offices and set up a new operations base in Melbourne, with 12 new jobs.

Tait Asia Pacific regional manager Brett Smythe said the contract was a great endorsement for Tait, with its radios required to function under extreme conditions, where lives were at stake. "CFA's ... team operates in challenging environments and extremely hazardous situations such as bushfires," he said.

"Communications doesn't get more mission-critical than that."

The government-owned CFA is Victoria's rural fire service, which had officers battling the Black Saturday bushfires in February 2009, which killed 173 people.

Tait digital radio will replace CFA's old analogue system, in place since 1995, and will be installed in vehicles, control centres and distributed among fire officers.

The 10,000 radios, which will be made in Christchurch, will be phased in later this year, with the roll-out expected to be completed by mid-2012. The radios will be all made in a custom-orange, to help them stand out in hazardous conditions.

Tait already has radio contracts with the New Zealand Fire Service, and the state fire service in Queensland and New South Wales but these deals are dwarfed by the scale of the CFA contract.

Tait already has big police contracts in China, South America, Canada and New Zealand, plus many industrial and transport contracts internationally.

In the year ended November, 2009, Tait had sales of almost $200m, up from a record 2008 year of $185m.

Tait managing director Frank Owen said the CFA contract showed the results of the strong focus on public safety taken by the firm, since he took the helm last year.

"We are thrilled to be setting up such an in-depth partnership with this type of public safety agency," he said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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