Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Authority – Smoothwall Filter Case Study
What’s the background?
Hereford & Worcester Fire & Rescue Authority (HW Fire) provides emergency services to over three quarters of a million people across the counties of Herefordshire and Worcestershire, attending over 9,000 incidents each year. It has an establishment of over 300 full-time operational staff, more than 300 retained (part-time) staff, 20+ Fire Control staff, as well as around 100 non-uniformed support staff. HW Fire operates from a custom designed facility on the outskirts of Worcester.
They have 30 sites including the service headquarters in Worcester, operational logistics (fleet and equipment maintenance), an Urban Search and Rescue facility, five whole time stations, three day crewed stations and 19 retained stations.
HW Fire has approximately 840 users spread across the 30 sites and approximately 250 PCs and Laptops and 130 servers.
What was the challenge?
HW Fire had a number of defined requirements for their systems which operate in two main areas of the service.
Primary Fire Service Network
- Robust and reliable protection for the organisation both internally and externally against the latest security threats and network attacks.
- An Active Directory compatible web filtering system for monitoring and censoring Internet access, which is flexible enough to block any unsuitable contents in line with their Acceptable Usage Policy (AUP). At the same time, resilience must be built in for high availability and failover to business continuity site.
- Connectivity of day crewed and retained stations via a secure VPN link integrated with existing Cisco infrastructure and the option of a standby fail-over to business continuity site.
- A secure DMZ for hosting web service, managing external access and filtering email contents.
They have recently relocated their fire control which now operates inside the corporate network. To ensure high levels of security a second firewalled network was created inside their own. The main focus as a fire service with the network was high availability.
- A secure, resilient firewall which would protect the network against all attacks.
- A high availability solution with 100% redundancy.
- The ability to securely route between the two networks.
- The ability to allow external access limited to fire control network and not corporate network.
- A non-Microsoft based product as with the primary infrastructure to meet the Code of connection requirements for access to the GSi network.
How Smoothwall helped
HW Fire opted for Smoothwall after previous experience of the open source Smoothwall Express product, and they wanted a Linux based firewall system. HW Fire commented on why they chose to use Smoothwall’s commercial offering after their previous experience. “Smoothwall’s high level of support and continued development of the system has given us no reason to look at other providers. The modular based system also allows us to just pay for those systems we required on the different hardware devices.”
When asked to comment on the quality of service they received from Smoothwall, HW Fire commented, “Exceptional levels of support, always very friendly and helpful. More recently we have had to make a number of changes to the base Smoothwall system to enable the successful integration of our fire control network and Smoothwall support were able to meet all of our requirements and make the necessary changes.”
Exceptional levels of support, always very friendly and helpful. More recently we have had to make a number of changes to the base Smoothwall system to enable the successful integration of our fire control network and Smoothwall support were able to meet all of our requirements and make the necessary changes.