Major Incident, Off-Site 9-1-1 and
Planned Response mobile command centers can be used as a mobile 9-1-1 center in
the event a fixed site center is evacuated or damaged, or as a way to assist a
fixed site during a time of overwhelming call-ins. Mobile command centers are
also available for deployment to the site of a terrorist attack or natural
disaster, major crime scenes, standoffs, and major public events.
Farber Specialty Vehicles
Farber’s mobile command vehicles
range from the Mercedes Sprinter or Ford E450 up to 45-foot buses with 40 feet
of useable space and 1,000 square feet inside. Customers can build from the
ground up or use an existing chassis. According to Steve Goodyear, Vice
President of Sales, “We take the Farber Specialty name seriously and it’s not
what’s special to us, but rather what’s special to our customers.”
Larger agencies often choose
Farber’s 45-foot body chassis, although they have 40 different vehicle lines
with state-of-the-art equipment. The vehicle can communicate on various fronts,
including VPN, secure Internet and high-tech phones. The vehicles have FLIR
night cameras and INTEC cameras and sidewinders, mounted to a Wilbert Mast with
hard drive recorders documenting the 360 security cameras. Trailers have fully
expandable walls and slideout rooms are used extensively. Farber provides
vehicles for rough terrain including four-wheel drive vehicles.
Goodyear cautioned that there are
always a lot of questions about writing specs and customers can find their
assistance very helpful. “There is no question that this assistance is a big
part of what we do.” He stated that Farber’s experience building vehicles year
after year, along with customers constantly bringing them new information,
allows them to build better vehicles and be responsive to customer needs.
Duane Martin, DEO, Project
Management, METRO Los Angeles, stated that they are very happy with their
Farber state-of-the-art vehicle, which they call MOC-1 (Mobil Operations
Command-1) and they particularly like the flexibility and interoperability of
the vehicle. Their use is mostly concentrated on Continuity of Operations in
the event of a disaster or impact to service because during a catastrophic
event, they can seamlessly deploy MOC-1 and remotely operate both rail and bus
operations from MOC-1 within the hour. They also use MOC-1 as an incident
command vehicle for major accidents within a mutual aide situation, as well as
possible terrorist events, civil unrest, earthquakes and the like.
Martin pointed out that drills are
another key component of the use of Farber’s mobile command vehicle and they
try to keep all field and operations personnel engaged in emergency response
and continuity of operations. He stated, “Incidents involving service impacts
that may need field resources for extended hours or days suit MOC-1’s purview
perfectly. With 15 workstations and immediate access to our radio and mobile
data, CCTV, and intelligence information, she has the information that is
critical to manage just about any incident thrown at us.”
Martin reported they have the capability
of using fiber, microwave, satellite and regular 3/4G antenna to communicate.
Their new MOC-1 mobile command vehicle was paid for with a state security
La Boit Inc.
La Boit Specialty Vehicles manufactures
command centers from 26 feet to 40 feet, built from the chassis up. La Boit
reports that what sets them apart is that they build from the ground up, rather
than taking a shell and retrofitting it. The from-the-ground-up build allows
more control over things like the wall structure and interior design, including
available 7-foot interior heights, making it nice for taller officers.
Every order is custom built and may include LED lighting and siren packages,
state-of-the-art communications and technology packages, smart boards, and
various radio and communications equipment. For example, some need mast
packages for surveillance from a distance, while others want strictly
communications packages for hostage situations.
Mast/camera and light and siren
packages are the most often ordered features.
Jurisdictions often use seized or
grant money such as GSA schedule—Contract GS-30F-0012S for the purchase.
Jurisdictions may “piggy back” an order from another agency so they don’t have
to put out bids.
La Boit’s most popular size is the 33-foot unit, while the 26-foot one is also
often ordered, particularly by smaller jurisdictions, because the cost is much
less than the bigger diesel trucks with more expensive chassis. The mast
package is a 25-foot mast and the camera attached to the mast is so
sophisticated, you can see the color of someone’s eyes from a mile away.
Marty Clements, Director, Jackson-Madison County (Tenn.) EMA, stated that they have used their La Boit mobile command unit for several types of missions.
For instance, they used it in a multi-state manhunt and the successful apprehension of two criminals from Louisiana, where it was the main informational and planning space for the US Marshals, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Louisiana State Police, Madison County Sheriff Office, and the Jackson Police Department.
used it at Union University following the February 2008 tornado that destroyed
70 percent of the campus dorms, one of the largest disasters to a higher educational
facility. The vehicle handled all security operations for Union
and the rest of the city that sustained damage. Further uses included it being
the focal point and operations for security during Black Friday shopping at the
local mall and other shops, Christmas parades, Relay for Life, BBQ Festival,
and other events.
stated, “Our vehicle is equipped with a camera mast to extend 25 feet and
camera system with 360-degree surveillance capabilities and zoom-in features.
It can be plugged in to run 9-1-1 Dispatch calls or other dispatch necessities.
The satellite and dish setup enables communications when local assets are
destroyed. The vehicle is very stable while driving and has given us years of
service with low maintenance.”
Matthews Specialty Vehicles
Matthews Specialty Vehicles
believes that while deploying manpower and
equipment is very important,
managing the situation properly and efficiently is still the most important
aspect of any critical incident. Having everything available at the scene is
invaluable, as well as a real advantage in inclement weather and dangerous
has found that the capability of interoperable communications across frequencies
is important when more than one agency or jurisdiction is involved, such as on
9/11. Redundant voice and data communications, including the use of satellite
VoIP, cellular and land-line connectivity are also needed due to unforeseen
there should be access to satellite television for important weather and news
coverage. A telescopic mast with camera allows for outer perimeter vehicle
placement without the loss of incident monitoring. Tying this equipment into a
video distribution system connected to all monitors, DVD or DVRs and patched
into a SMART or other brand electronic copy-board will greatly improve
after-action analysis and debriefing, and a comfortable and functional
conference room assists with this.
Captain Michael Corsaro, Deputy
Chief of Staff, West Virginia State Police, reported that Matthews not only met
their requirements but already had GSA pricing so there was no bid process.
Their 2011 45-foot vehicle has two dispatch consoles, an office accommodating
six, and another conference room holding 10. The mast with satellite allows for
both cellular and satellite communications and they can receive data either
way. They have a light tower that easily illuminates crime scenes. For
instance, the FBI used their vehicle as a mobile office for the Aliya Lunsford
missing child investigation.
The mast camera can view crowd
scenes from a height and display it on seven television screens. They recently
used it for Bridge Day to scan the crowds to view the scene from one end to the
other. An outside screen shows PowerPoints, Google Earth, documents for
everyone to view, or for seeing local news and a “Smart Board” allows them to
write on the screen. Network patches for laptops allow access to cellular or
Satellite radio communications are
interoperable to communicate with different agencies. Due to West Virginia’s
rural nature, the vehicle is used as a mobile office any time there is an
incident requiring a large number of law enforcement officers.
Captain Corsaro stated, “We
discovered we were behind the eight ball at the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster
when we had no communication capacity for out of the area and no place for
staff to meet. This pushed us to be more prepared and have a place for
operational staff to work and provide adequate communications.” He stated that
it is necessary to think in terms of size, and to obtain a vehicle that will
meet your needs, although that does limit the places where it might travel. For
instance, the vehicle needs to be somewhat level in order to use the tip-outs.
Pierce Manufacturing Inc.
Shane Braun, Pierce Manufacturing Inc.,
stated that their mobile command units are specifically
designed for the end user with the best available technology. For instance, the
WTI Sidewinder, H.264 standard-definition color video camera is built for
mobile applications with Continuous 360-degree Pan and Tilt, 35X optical
zoom lens with electronic image stabilization, 520 horizontal TV lines,
Day/Night DSP camera technology, 0.5 lux to 0.01 lux in IR mode, and hydrophilic
“self-cleaning glass window.
Braun stated, “The challenge is always how to
integrate the latest technology into the apparatus while still looking at
future needs and designing the system to allow the end users to upgrade and
take advantage of technological advancement. Managing
an apparatus that may take several years to develop, then an additional year to
build, shows you how much technology changes.”
Braun pointed out that there needs to be balance
between the technology being placed into the apparatus and the structural
requirements providing long-term vehicle performance, and Fremont (Calif.) is a
Gary Ashley, Fremont (Calif.) Fire
Department reported that their police and fire departments combined resources
for a state-of-the-art mobile command center, with modular components to be
able to switch them out easily to individualize use by each department. Their
vehicle was 80 percent funded by Homeland Security’s Urban Area Security
Initiative (UASI), with the stipulation that the vehicle would be available to
jurisdictions in the immediate Bay area, and due to that, all the components,
such as radios and computers, had to be compatible.
The Fremont Police Department
previously used a retrofitted RV, too outdated for new technology. New
technology allows them to use satellite links for communication, meaning they
are not limited geographically or by the failure of infrastructure.
Their long-range, high-resolution
camera can send images to SWAT operators’ phones, news outlets, and to record
The 45-foot unit has a 33-foot-tall
retractable mast with camera, 27 flat screen monitors inside, and a 42-inch
flat screen on the outside used for briefings or public announcements. It is
used about once a month, mostly by the police department, for SWAT team
situations, concerts and events.
Ashley stated, “Our Pierce mobile
command center was intended to be an “all risk” vehicle that could handle all
major systems in case of a disaster. It is intended for use as a dispatch
center in case our standard center is damaged and we are ready to test the
capabilities of that system, overseen by ATT. ATT believes this is the first
mobile command vehicle with portable 9-1-1 capabilities nationwide.”
Ashley further stated, “The
collaborative effort in acquiring this mobile command center has fostered
strong cooperation between the police and fire departments, and fostered an
‘era of cooperation’ I have never seen before.”
Sirchie Vehicle Division
Sirchie’s base packages include
the floor, ceiling and wall finishes, counters, seating, storage cabinetry, and
other interior structures. The 12V DC auxiliary power system has heavy-duty
auxiliary batteries, power converters, fully automatic battery chargers, and
emergency lighting. The 120V/240 AC system consists of both dockside and shore
power inputs, and an on-board commercial/industrial generator.
Roof-mounted air conditioners,
forced air furnaces, and 120V AC electric heaters handle climate control.
Additional available features include 25- to 60-foot mast-mounted cameras, IP
camera systems, commercial satellite communication systems, and police radio
Their 31-foot MCV550 series, a
Ford F550 Cab/Chassis-based unit accommodating up to an 18-foot-long work area,
is their most popular unit, and the available gasoline engine has a lower cost
than larger diesel engine-based units. Sirchie’s Commercial Cutaway Models
(MCV9000) and the MCV550 series are available with four-wheel drive, making
them better suited to access remote areas.
Tony Saggiomo, Vice President/CEO,
Sirchie Vehicle Division, stated, “It is our responsibility to insure that the
vehicle is equipped with the physical structures/supports and power
requirements for the proper operation of the equipment. Interoperability
between all emergency management departments within their jurisdiction is of
Agencies want a reliable vehicle
that can comfortably accommodate a command staff for extended periods of time.
Saggiomo commented, “If the foundation systems are not adequate, then no amount
of equipment will make the vehicle functional. The importance of the power
systems, climate control, and general creature comforts cannot be stressed
enough. If these items are in place, then the vehicle can be equipped as needed
to meet the individual in-field requirements of a department.”
Slideout rooms to expand the size
of the operations areas are the current trend in mobile command vehicles.
Sirchie monitors and tracks grant programs and also offers grant writing
assistance. While smaller departments may not have the funding for a
well-equipped mobile command vehicle, if they have a facility such as a nuclear
plant in their jurisdiction, they may qualify for federal grant funding in order
to be prepared for a critical incident.
Capt. Tom Pape, Poughkeepsie (N.Y.)
Police, said they use their mobile command vehicle at every crime scene. He
stressed the advantages of having the vehicle available in hot or cold weather
to make the work more comfortable for his staff and having all their tools
available on scene. They also use it for special events, such as their annual
Children’s Expo. He stated, “Sirchie makes a good truck. It’s virtually
bulletproof. We have had it long enough to do upgrades and use it all the
The Massachusetts State
Tagline: Ready at the Scene with Mobile Command Centers
The Massachusetts State Police has
been utilizing mobile command posts for
over a quarter of a century. In doing so, they have gained invaluable knowledge
into the needs of the Commonwealth. They have not only a very large, recently
updated tractor trailer unit, but also
two smaller trucks that can be moved
quickly and are more accessible for limited access areas. Each Command Post has unique
capabilities and is deployed depending on the type of mission, estimated time
of deployment, and location.
Command Post 1 by Frontline Communications
Frontline Communications supplies broadcast, mobile command
and communications, law enforcement and specialty vehicles to multiple
industries. Frontline is ISO 9001 certified and designs and manufactures highly
engineered mobile command centers in its Clearwater, Fla. facility.
Massachusetts State Police took delivery of what is now their Command Post 1
(CP1) in June of 2004. The maiden mission of CP1 was the Democratic National
Convention held in the city of Boston.
The initial deployment lasted 14 days and was a great success. CP1 is a 53-foot
trailer with four slideouts, two in the front communications room, and two in
the rear command room, which allow for the trailer to expand to 16 feet wide.
The command trailer is towed by a Freightliner tractor, which brings the
combined length of both the tractor and trailer to 78 feet long.
original design featured a front communications room, which housed six dispatch
stations, and a rear command area capable of seating 12 comfortably. Forward of
the communications room was a bathroom and the electronics room for the radios,
VCRs, monitors and downlink receiver. The command trailer was constructed by AK
Specialty Vehicles. (In 2006, AK Specialty
Vehicles was acquired by Oshkosh Corp. and integrated into Frontline
Communications in the Oshkosh Fire and Emergency Group.)
events surrounding the Marathon bombings, the Department realized that CP1 was
in need of updating to keep up with the ever-changing advances in technology.
With the support of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, the MSP
undertook the project of renovating CP1.
complete technological update, as well as interior renovations, were done to
the trailer. The bathroom was removed to make room for a new 35-foot mast,
which holds a downlink antenna and a microwave point-to-point dish. The dispatch
stations were removed and replaced with a large conference table similar to the
rear command room, allowing for the area to be more user friendly.
IP-based radio system was installed to increase interoperability. The rear mast
was updated to include a new high-definition mast camera with infrared, as well
as an additional high-definition downlink antenna. The trailer was completely
rewired to accept all the latest video formats now available. CP1 has a
satellite phone system, two cellular telephone lines, fax, Internet and Intranet.
Other features include a digital radio recorder, video recorder video frame synchronizer,
satellite and off-air television, high-definition monitors, as well as a 100 KW
renovations and updates were completed by Tri State Truck Center of Shrewsbury
(Mass.), DG Marshall Associates of Webster (Mass.), and Little Bay Broadcast
Services of Dover (N.H.). The newly renovated CP1 made its
debut at the 2014 Boston Marathon.
Frontline Communications customers prefer three custom-built, small, medium and
large platform vehicles: the Sprinter, the C-30X, and the C-40X-4. These can be
configured with optional equipment and multiple slideouts to provide the
optimal vehicle design in order to fulfill each vehicle’s mission. Frontline’s
heavy-duty, completely smooth skinned bodies are designed to last over 20 years
and can be remounted on a new chassis if required.
includes surface mount raceways, which provide easy access to wiring and cables
for technology upgrades and complete detailed as-built drawings. Typical
optional equipment includes custom compartments and slideout trays, pneumatic
masts for lighting and camera systems, weapons lockers, emergency lighting, and
custom paint and graphics.
Frontline’s systems design engineers develop communications systems based on
each customer’s specific application and provide complete operator training.
Video conferencing, interoperability, radio communications, satellite
connectivity for voice, video and data, and HD and thermal cameras are typical
installed technologies. A recently delivered vehicle even had radar installed
for port surveillance. Their customers
typically utilize UASI (Urban Area Security Initiative) grants, which
are one of the more common grants used to fund mobile command centers.
Steve Williamson, Frontline Director of Sales, stated, “Frontline has extensive
resources and is happy to assist with writing specifications. When writing a
specification, the agency should be as specific as possible with both the
construction of the vehicle as well as the technology capabilities. Quality of
construction, ergonomics, and technology all play an important role in the
vehicle’s mission. Take the time to visit companies you may be considering to
build your vehicle. A day or two investment to meet with a manufacturer is well
worth the time, especially when considering the cost of the vehicle.”
Command Posts 2 and 3 by LDV
Massachusetts State Police received their second mobile command vehicle (CP2)
in 2008. This 40-foot straight truck was built by LDV and was originally built
as a demonstration model for LDV, who customized it for the MSP. Its split
setup features a small conference table in the front, and a dispatch area in
the rear. Command Post 2 has similar capabilities as their CP1, but in a
smaller package. It is able to be dispatched to the scene quickly, and capable
of being maneuvered in smaller areas. Command Post 3 (their original CP1) is a 35-foot straight truck,
purchased from LDV in 1990 and sent back to LDV in 2011 for refurbishment.
LDV mobile command centers feature satellite phone systems, Internet and Intranet,
satellite and off-air television, cellular phone lines, and radio system
interoperability with multiple dispatch stations. They have satellite
helicopter video downlink, printer/DVD/VHS recorder/GPS, video photo printer,
mast camera and security cameras. There is an on-board generator to assure
power no matter where an incident is located. They have bathroom facilities, a
weather station, and video conference capabilities.
builds mobile command centers on any size trailer and all brands of motorized
chassis with body styles covering cargo vans, pickups, SUV, walk-around,
walk-in, bus, coach, and cab chassis box-style trucks, from 12 to 45 feet in
length. Departments generally choose the type and size of platform based on
their budgets and space requirements.
is the primary driver for mobile command center model selection and the size
must take into consideration the number of needed work stations, number of
command staff, and space needed for storing special equipment. The height and
width of the unit are important considerations if the vehicle needs to be
maneuverable through narrow city streets. Smaller trucks are easier to store
and maneuver, but the larger sizes allow for multiple slideouts.
reported their exclusive Intel-I-Touch™ system integrates nearly all of the
systems and equipment into a single intuitive control and monitoring system.
LDV developed Intel-I-Touch™ to simplify vehicle deployment, reduce training
time for users, and increase safety measures during deployment. Intel-I-Touch™
can also be integrated with a tablet, so users can employ additional
portability and functionality. Users are able to control and monitor their
command center with the automated control system.
that can be controlled with Intel-I-Touch™ include the AC and DC power
distribution, HVAC control, slide-out control, awning deployment, mast
operations, interior and exterior lighting operation, and safety interlocks and
warnings. This allows for ease of operation, reduced operator training, and
quicker deployment and stow time, safer vehicle setup and diagnostics, error
detection, and troubleshooting.
LDV suggested that clients contact
them with their requirements for spec writing and allow them to collaborate on
the specifications. When writing specs, departments often omit information
necessary to ensure the vehicle and the technology operates the way they
intend. When companies bid or quote on their specifications, departments can
see huge variations in the price quotations, based on omitted content and
sometimes even basic functionalities.
LDV’s larger command vehicles include communication, radios, modulated audio and video,
mast camera system, and the technology that makes it all work. The larger trucks are
typically in the 40- to 45-foot range and can have anywhere from one to four
slideout rooms and LDV elects to make the most of slideouts with a flat floor
surface, rather than an above-floor slideout, providing a more ergonomic work
the technology included in the large command vehicles includes VoIP, satellite
broadband, satellite TV, 4G LTE data connectivity, radio interoperability
systems, microwave data receivers, microwave downlinks, and mesh networks. LDV tries to adhere to technology that is industry
standard to ensure end user familiarity and improve the ability to integrate
and grow systems for greater overall function of the command center.
Kathy Marks has been a child abuse investigator for more than 30 years.
She teaches classes regarding domestic terrorism and is a previous contributor
to LAW and ORDER. She can be reached at email@example.com.