1. #1
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    Default Do you hear all your other stations' dispatches?

    Currently some individuals in our department are investigating some better ways to dispatch our 5 stations (5 engines, 2 cross staffed trucks). We've got ~90 line personnel and we do NOT run ambulances (ran privately). Our department runs ~6500/year.

    The question at hand is how do you guys get your dispatches?
    Do you hear all dispatches to the rest of your units on your department?
    DO you only hear your own dispatch at night etc?
    [/B]

    We would like to move to hearing just "your own dispatch" in order to be able to address some of the health problems associated with interrupted sleep and lack of sleep in the Fire Service. WE VERY WELL recognize that getting up in the middle of the night is part of our job, but he would just like to look into seeing if there is a better way that we could do it. And before you call bull$h!t, read this article on firefighter sleep deprivation.

    Your comments and input on this is very much appreciated! And if I've left anything out that would better paint the picture, let me know.

  2. #2
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    We have 7 stations in our city, some with multiple apparatus on the same station. Our dispatch channel is also used for a neighboring city with 2 station.

    Vehicle mounted radios and handhelds ALWAYS receive all traffic. Inside the station, our radios have selected mode via a toggle switch. During "day mode" we hear any and all radio traffic. In "night mode", we hear only information after the station specific tones (some filter actives the speaker after it hears certain tones). There's also an "ALL CALL" that everyone hears, but that's reserved for "The Big One" and we rarely ever hear that.

    Usually during the day, out dispatcher announce the units, then the tones and then gives the full dispatch. Since we only hear the information after the tones at night, it adds 15-20 seconds to our response time. Luckily admin is understanding. Also, when night mode is activated, red lights in the bay room come on automatically.

  3. #3
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    unfortunately i have to hear our other station go out, we run 4500 calls a year. from 2 houses.

    i personally don't care to hear each time they go out since i never hear when they come back in. also it is my opinion that dispatch is the ones to track resources not me.

    i am a company officer and it is myself and another lt in our city. we are in a heavily mutual aid dependent area with many other company officers. they don't hear there neighboring departments going out all night.
    Originally Posted by madden01
    "and everyone is encouraged to use Plain, Spelled Out English. I thought this was covered in NIMS training."

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    Thank you very much for responding zz and ffmed for responding, those are just the types of options I am looking for. If possible, would you be willing to answer a few of these questions too?

    Again, I really appreciate your input. We have a long road in front of us proving we need to make this change and any information is welcomed!



    What is the size of the Department?

    How many call do they run a year?

    Does your department have the ability to page individual stations?

    Is paging done via 911 or a decipher device in station that differentiates tones for individual stations?

    Do the stations even have tones?

    How many different/backup notifying devices are used; pagers, tones, rip and run?

    What do they do if 911 dispatches a wrong unit/address, what is the backup?

    Does their dispatch or 911 make many errors that need to be corrected?

    How long has current system been in place? Do they like it?

    What changes would they make if any?

  5. #5
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    What is the size of the Department?
    My dept is about 130 FFs with 7 stations. The dept that shares our frequency is about 60 FFs and 2 stations. Both are career.

    How many call do they run a year?
    We run about 4500-5000 calls per year. The other dept does about 2500 I think.

    Does your department have the ability to page individual stations?
    Yes. Each station has it's own specific tones. If the station is set to "day mode", we hear every bit of radio traffic and dispatch for everyone. In "night mode" is when the station will only hear radio traffic for a few minutes after own specific tones. A handheld or mobile radio picks up everything all the time.

    Is paging done via 911 or a decipher device in station that differentiates tones for individual stations?
    The call comes in through our 911 dispatch. Their CAD suggests units for the call then they click the "Send Tones" button and the individual station tones are broadcast.

    Do the stations even have tones?
    Yes. See above.

    How many different/backup notifying devices are used; pagers, tones, rip and run?
    We have a rip & run that prints when the tones are sent, but it is seldom used. Regardless of the time of day, an old fashioned bell rings in the bay when our specific tones are broadcast. If we have not marked enroute within 60 seconds, dispatch will try to contact us on the radio. If that fails, they'll either call the station or dispatch a different unit (depending on the priority of the call). Dispatch also has the phone list with our cell phones, so I guess they could call us that way, but we've never had that happen.

    What do they do if 911 dispatches a wrong unit/address, what is the backup?
    If a unit is dispatched to the wrong side of town (out of district) and there's no reason, we might point that out to the dispatched as we're getting enroute. There could be a reason for it (unit out of service or on a run already). Depending on the circumstance and situation in the city, we'll either continue to the call or let the appropriate station take the run. Doesn't happen often and when it does, it's usually user error (someone hitting the OUT OF SERVICE button instead of ON STATION).

    If it's a wrong address and the dispatcher figures it out, they'll update the call. If it's nearby, things go on as normal. If it's on the other side of town, depends on how far away the closest unit is and type of call. Never seen this happen. If we show up at the address and it's the wrong house, we contact dispatch and they confirm with the caller if possible. Our city is usually pretty good and will take calls for another district if we're driving through for fuel or returning from another run/hospital.

    Does their dispatch or 911 make many errors that need to be corrected?
    Seldom. Usually it's a matter of the information they receive from the caller, which we can't fault them for.

    How long has current system been in place? Do they like it?
    The system has been in place for a few years, but we're always tweaking it a little bit to better fit us. A big thing for us now is to hit the NFPA response standard. Sometimes we'll hear the MDT start beeping 10-20 seconds before any tones drop. This obviously increases our response time. Ideally, they should happen at the same time. We keep trying new things to get an accurate picture of our response.

    What changes would they make if any?
    Our system shows road closures, but it would be nice if we could somehow pull in traffic to help pick the best route (kind of like GPS). I know that requires a lot more resources than our city alone, but that's probably the biggest thing. Not needed for most in district responses, but for mutual aid or if our ambulances are transporting into the city, it would be nice. The MDT has a map button that shows the location, so we can get going in the right direction quickly. We already have all the hydrants pulled in so we'll know where they are when needed, which is nice.

    I guess the only thing I can thing of (which is minor) would be some sort of special tone signifying an event that would require full bunker gear (such as a fire or auto accident opposed to a sick person). Especially at night when you're stumbling to the bay from a deep sleep, we go to the MDT to see what the call is and then dress accordingly. Not a big deal, but just takes 5-10 seconds more to figure out if we need to gear up.

  6. #6
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    Default re: station alerts

    What type of radio system do you use? VHF high 136-174 mhz, UHF (420mhz-480mhz about), 800mhz, 900 mhz? Let me know and I will give you some ideas options...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wet on Red View Post


    What is the size of the Department?
    42 men 2 stations, 7-12 on shift

    How many call do they run a year?
    we run 4400 a year, 70% ems

    Does your department have the ability to page individual stations?
    yep, but old timers want to hear it, only initial dispatch not in quarters or other radio traffic

    Is paging done via 911 or a decipher device in station that differentiates tones for individual stations?
    the tones and strobes go off if your station is going out. otherwise you just hear the voice, beep beep for ems, whoop whoop for fire. all are escalating voume tones

    Do the stations even have tones?
    yes

    How many different/backup notifying devices are used; pagers, tones, rip and run?no rip and run, they will call the house line if no response

    What do they do if 911 dispatches a wrong unit/address, what is the backup?
    we repeat the address when we get int he rigs

    Does their dispatch or 911 make many errors that need to be corrected?
    they are human, but we just send it up the chain if there is an issue, hasn't happened in a while. it's a lot better than 5 years ago when we dispatched and answered the phones with firemen.

    How long has current system been in place?
    5 years
    Do they like it?
    i like it, could be better we are on a single channel for about 17,000 runs a year for 5 departments, we do have 4 tactical channels though.

    What changes would they make if any?
    go to a better repeater system, look at mobiles in the pumpers possibly. no "should we call mutual aid for fires", dispatch should not have to ask. there should be parameters specific for that and it should be automatic.
    otherthan that: rip and run, scmods/mdts, and times should dump to the reports autoamatically vs being typed each time.
    ask if you need anything else
    Originally Posted by madden01
    "and everyone is encouraged to use Plain, Spelled Out English. I thought this was covered in NIMS training."

  8. #8
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    Default radio

    Hi,
    My station has 2 sets of tones, 1 for the station and one for the pagers. Our department is a combo volunteer/career. So when dispatch, dispatches us, the 1st tone sets off the alarm at the station with the bunk room lights coming on via motorola minitor amplified charger with relay and then the second tone sets off the volunteer pagers. Each tone only works for the designated work group. Ie at 3am if they only want to contact the oic at the station for what ever reason and don't need to wake up the volunteers then they only set the 1st tone off and only will alert the station. Same in reverse for say an announcment of some sort the can only alert the volunteers and the station will not alert. It is done with standard dispatch console, minitor pager with amplified charger and relay at the station. Note this specific option only works with vhf low/high (ie: 33mhz and 150 mhz), UHF high and low (ie: 450mhz). At this time it won't work with the 700,800,900 mhz radios because there isn't page cabability on those systems.

    Here is a link to the stuff, only chose this one because of prices etc not endorcing any company:http://www.pwservice.com/pagers/fire...minitor_v.aspx

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    Default Tones

    Large department, about 73 stations on 4 dispatch channels. Conventional UHF with Motorola Simulcast. We use Zetron encoders to send the tones out over the dispatch channels. These encoders are triggered automatically from our CAD. Stations are always on night mode as others call it. Radios turned on in the station, even during the day, is taboo. The tones trigger the station alerting system on overhead speakers and plays the radio audio for about 45 seconds; enough time for everyone to turn on their handheld. No pagers at all. If they have a radio on, some crews actually recognize their station's tones and can get going before the dispatcher starts talking. After 10:30 PM, the dispatchers call the station hotline (if time permits) so the alerting system doesn't trigger and the other crew gets to sleep.

    Testing is important. The all-call tones go out at 07:00 for the wake up. Individual tones are tested during roll call every morning.

    If you want to hear how it sounds on the air, dial 786 336 6655, then 1 1 1 or 1 2 1 for our busier channels.

    Ray
    Last edited by RayVaughan; 06-16-2010 at 09:18 PM. Reason: Added testing

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wet on Red View Post
    What is the size of the Department?
    20 stations, 525 personnel
    How many call do they run a year?
    ~40,000

    Does your department have the ability to page individual stations?
    Yes

    Is paging done via 911 or a decipher device in station that differentiates tones for individual stations?
    We use the Motorola FRAP protocal that allows up to 20 stations be notified simultaniously without the use of two-tone sequential paging.
    Do the stations even have tones?
    Yes (see above)

    How many different/backup notifying devices are used; pagers, tones, rip and run?
    Pagers and MDT's in each vehicle.

    What do they do if 911 dispatches a wrong unit/address, what is the backup?
    Immediately dispatch the appropriate vehicles.

    Does their dispatch or 911 make many errors that need to be corrected?
    Sometimes, but that's kind of a vague question.

    How long has current system been in place? Do they like it?
    12 years. It works pretty well for our needs.

    What changes would they make if any?
    We listen to all 20 stations get dispatched from 0700 to 2000. After that, we only hear our particular station get dispatched for calls. Listening to all calls for a department with our call volume would be pretty tough to do.
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