More on 2010 Security Industry: Acklands-Grainger
Security contracts hint at level emergency planning for 2010 Games
Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun, Friday, October 31, 2008
Should anything go really wrong at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, it won't be because the people in charge of securing the Games don't have the equipment.
Firefighters in Vancouver are getting the newest and best self-contained breathing apparatus. First responders dealing with hazardous materials, from chemical and biological agents to radiological and nuclear threats, will have top-of-the-line protective gear. Police officers will sport new bullet-resistant body armour and will be equipped with the newest in portable radio technology.
Even the Canadian military is getting in on the act, testing out new radar systems designed to detect low-flying aircraft and heat signatures from vehicle exhaust.
Just what the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit and its partners are planning in the way of high-level security largely continues to remain secret. The unit, which is overseen by the RCMP, has steadfastly refused to talk about its tactical requirements, even to the point of not admitting whether it will draw upon NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defence Command, for surveillance of airspace during the Games.
But a pair of federal contracts and a security products conference arranged this week by Acklands-Grainger, the official safety equipment supplier for the Vancouver Organizing Committee, gave hints about the level of preparation going into emergency planning for the Games.
The federal public works department issued advance notice that it plans to award two directed contracts relating to 2010 security. One involves the testing for the Department of National Defence of two "passive coherent location radar" systems to fill in gaps in "existing national air surveillance pictures."
The contract is being given to Thales Canada of Ottawa and Lockheed Martin of Colorado and involves a three-month test of technology used to detect small aircraft flying at low altitude. Award documents say the government's plans "reflect the desire to evaluate the current state of commercial systems for rapid implementation into the field for events such as the 2010 Olympics."
There is no price attached to the documents.
The second award involves the purchase of 32 desktop control stations for new mobile radios that will be used by the security unit. That contract, worth between $150,000 and $170,000, is being given to M/A-Com Private Radio Systems, which has a Burnaby office and which has supplied special radios to E-Comm, the publicly owned service that provides 911 and other emergency preparedness services.
E-Comm is providing M/A-Com-made radios to the security unit, which in turn needs to buy the appropriate base stations.
Those two contracts give a tiny indication of one reason why the security budget for the Olympics has jumped from $175 million to at least $400 million and likely more.
New Public Safety Minister Peter van Loan is expected to release a revised security budget - which his predecessor Stockwell Day said recently would be less than $1 billion - within weeks. Companies wanting in on the action have already started to make a play.
On Tuesday, Acklands-Grainger hosted a 2010 security conference where some manufacturers displayed equipment that could be of use to police, firefighters and soldiers. Among the objects were the latest in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear protective masks and breathing apparatus, as well as threat-monitoring stations, communications equipment and computerized command control systems.
All of it is equipment that firefighters Dan Hilton and Tim Armstrong are familiar with. The two men, assistant chiefs at Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, say their department is already among the best-equipped in the country.
The city's firefighters are about to get even better equipment in time for the Games.
In July, city council agreed to purchase 260 new self-contained breathing apparatuses, similar to scuba systems, along with 700 new cylinders. The masks incorporate the latest standards set by the National Fire Protection Association, including "heads up" displays inside the face masks to tell firefighters their current level of air supply. They also include, for the first time in the city's history, an integrated voice-activated communication system, and new "rapid intervention connections" that allow emergency air to be delivered to a trapped firefighter without disconnecting his air supply.
The purchase isn't directly related to the 2010 Olympics, Hilton said, but firefighters will have them starting next year, in time for the Games. "We know we need them now because the old equipment we have has reached the end of its life cycle," he said.
Armstrong, on the other hand, hopes to buy several "rapid assistance suits" specifically in time for the Games. The chemical protection suits will protect firefighters dealing with hazardous materials.
Armstrong has also had hands-on practice with a multi-threat detection system called SafeSite that continuously scans for up to 37 toxic compounds. The system, made by MSA Inc, is already used at major public events to monitor for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats. It costs upwards of $100,000 for a basic system.
The federal and provincial governments are apparently discussing buying a SafeSite system for the 2010 Games. But Armstrong said he's also wanting Vancouver Fire and Rescue to acquire one for its own use given that the city is constantly dealing with hazardous events. "It is something I am contemplating putting in a request for," he said.
Vancouver already has one key piece of equipment MSA displayed at the security conference. The company showed off its latest thermal imagers, designed to detect heat sources, including bodies, and to record the images on video cards.
"We've already got those on every truck," Armstrong said.
© Vancouver Sun