Communications & Technology Supporting the NFFF Memorial Service

On October 6, 2002, the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation (NFFF) facilitated its largest memorial service ever. This article will take a look at some of the technology support that helped make the remembrance ceremony a great success.


On October 6, 2002, the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation (NFFF) facilitated its largest memorial service ever. This article will take a look at some of the technology support that helped make the remembrance ceremony a great success. This article will highlight the communications and presentation technology that proved to be a critical component.

Months before October 6th, NFFF planners were meeting on a regular basis to work out details, the 'what-ifs' and to do their best to establish realistic contingency plans. Officers from many departments were involved through a coordinated effort by NFFF Executive Director Ron Siarnicki.

This article will divide the Memorial Service into two segments:

  1. Communications technology for supporting cast
  2. Technology involved in the delivery of the program

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Sign displayed inside the Marriott at the Nextel/Motorola Command Center
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Field personnel coordinate via Nextel Wireless phone and Service
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"F" Street Command monitors radio traffic on Motorola trunked radio
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"F" Street Commander communicates to field units by Motorola radio
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The initial stage lighting with the blue background
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Stage lighting changed to red and more dramatic
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Stage lighting transitions to patriotic flag background
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A look at the video camera that will capture the presentation and display it on the video screens over the stage and to television feed.
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Two video screens that also project the service enhance the stage.
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A replica of the Memorial Monument located in Emmitsburg
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Podium shown with teleprompter
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Teleprompter can be seen with reference to Senator Biden's reading.
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Jumbotron viewer being delivered by tractor-trailer
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Various stages of jumbotron setup
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Denis Onieal, National Fire Academy is viewed on the Jumbotron during the service.

COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY & SUPPORT

Nextel and Motorola stepped up and provided the infrastructure, portable radios, wireless telephones and the network service to make it all work. In unison with the NFFF, Nextel and Motorola established their own seamless command center in an adjacent room at the Washington DC Marriott where the NFFF Command Center was located. The Nextel/Motorola Command Center was staffed 24/7 a week prior to the October 6th event.

NFFF Executive Director Ron Siarnicki told Firehouse.com, "The partnership with Nextel and Motorola helped us meet critical communication needs for such a large scale event, especially since it was held in the Nation's capitol. We were very excited and appreciative about the partnership with no cost to the NFFF.

"F Street Commander Dave Hartman (Charlottesville FD) explained, "Whenever we needed something for communications, regardless of the time of day, Nextel's Incident Commander Michael Walker was there to meet the need."

Collectively Nextel and Motorola provided over 500 wireless devices (portable radios and wireless telephones). The wireless hardware included several models from Motorola's iDEN platform, including the r750 MIL-STD 810 C/D/E advanced feature phones with headsets and speaker microphones. Over 80% of NFFF units accessed mobile data features via "Nextel on Line" on their handsets.

Nextel showcased a host of other equipment including specialized user programming software, the i Board, a folding keyboard for Nextel data enabled phones, integration with Roam Secure's online incident management software, & a full range of audio accessories including 200 headsets with in-line Push-To-Talk buttons, donated by JABRA Corporation.

Nextel's contribution, highlighted by an $135,000.00 airtime donation, was provided at the direction of Nick Sample, Nextel's Area Vice President for Baltimore, Washington and Virginia as a demonstration of Nextel's support of this tribute to fallen firefighters and their families.

35 Nextel employees handled provisioning, activation, programming, setup, delivery, training and care under Nextel "Incident Commander" & volunteer firefighter Michael Walker.

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