1. #1
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    Default Using Multiple Frequencies

    We have two stations in our department, each with a separate radio frequency. We have being doing a few large scale mock command drills that involved both stations and our radio traffic is a mess. We are working on one channel only and between communications between sectors, sector leaders, and IC you can't get a word in edgewise! We have talked about using the two separate frequencies on scene, one for operations and one for command. The problem then is how to monitor? Does the IC and each sector leader need two radios on seperate channels so they can talk to all parties? Some of us have trouble working just one radio. I guess in short what I am asking is did anyone else have this issue before and how did you overcome the problem?
    Thanks in advance!

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    The first thing to look at is radio discipline. Only necessary radio comms especially if everyone is on one channel.

    If you go to 2 channels, I would not suggest separating command from ops. Put secondary units on the 2nd freq like staging, water supply, rehab, etc. Command will need to monitor the second channel, but shouldn't need to participate much on that channel.

    For reference, we usually only operate on a single channel, and will usually have 4 departments and 7-9 units on the first alarm. Dispatch is on the main channel and operations are on a separate tac channel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jlracing18 View Post
    Does the IC and each sector leader need two radios on seperate channels so they can talk to all parties? Some of us have trouble working just one radio.
    Yes. That is exactly how it is done. If you have that much of a problem using one radio, I suggest training and practice.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    We have truck-to-truck on one frequency and fireground ops on another. It means the guys on the inside won't be cut off by the 5th in Tender arriving at staging.

    Basically 1 frequency == 1 coordinated group. The guys doing the work only use one radio(frequency) while the guys that have to coordinate across groups (Ops, Sector leads, Driver/Operators.. whatever) need two.

    Monitoring and use multiple radios can be a PITA, but not one that can't be overcome by training and experience.
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    Good job for all those white hats - put two of them in the command post along with the IC - one can monitor each channel.

    As mentioned, radio discipline is a key. Try recording both channels during a drill (use a video camera if you have to), then go back and listen in a post-drill critique.

    You may be surprised at how much unnecessary traffic there is. And as you listen outside the stressed environment of the drill, you may discover ways to communicate in a less verbose manner.

    Sometimes the problem is people who like to hear themselves talk on the radio.

    "Firefighter Snuffy of the Roof Sector to Incident Commander Jones. We've opened a 2 foot by 2 foot hole on the north side of the roof about 2 feet from the peak and opened up the ceiling below as well. The vent appears to be functioning properly. All members of the roof ventilation crew are now evacuating the roof area."

    "Roof to command. Roof vent is in place. We're coming down."
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    Thanks All.
    We have been working towards better communications on all members and it does take practice. I like the idea of recording the training session to review later as a group. I thought it was better to ask others out there what they do rather than assume what we do now is the best way.
    Thanks Again!

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    This is routinely how we do it.

    2 Channels. Dispatch and Fire Tac.

    Main Dispatch channel is used to communicate with Dispatch and incoming units.

    Fire Tac channel is used on scene by those operating on the fireground.

    Our "Fire Branch"... "operations".... Chief who is coordinating those operating on the fireground uses Fire Tac.

    The IC (at the command post, usually his SUV) monitors both channels on two different mobile radios. He coordinates incoming units, communicates with Dispatch on the main dispatch channel and solely deals with that "Fire Branch/Ops Chief" on Fire Tac.

    What is great is that those operating on the fireground are not hearing all the dispatch chatter and are solely focused on fireground. If there is a problem, all will hear it. One concern is that it is a simplex channel not monitored by dispatch; but if you are deep in a building you don't want to rely on a repeater receiving you....
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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    For many years, before the onset on fire radios with multiple radio channels, Trunked Radio Systems and the like, we operated just fine with a single channel radio system in the 154 MHz VHF frequency range. When we updated to the 453 UHF range we had three channels to operate on.

    Radio discipline e it the utmost procedure that any department must operate on. The Chief of the Department must issue a procedure on how the radios(s), will be used. This isn't the old Citizens Band, ""Hey Good Buddy, What's your 20""? deal.

    You only talk on the radio when someone calls you or you have something beneficial to report.

    Always remember, you must engage your brain before you push the talk button!
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

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    Cool Multiple Freqs

    How we run our comms on incidents is we request/assign a Command Freq and a Tactical Freq.

    We currently run a totally different System than our Mutual Aid but all FDs that participate in the State or Local Gov't Mutual Aid have certain Freqs that they must have. The primary FD (or AHJ) will use their System and all others will use VHF for Tacs. Once we establish our Standby Team they have a Freq that they use, but they scan the Tac Freq also. As others have stated, without radio discipline you could have all the Freqs you need but it still won't work for ya.

    What type of System do you run? Does your State have minimum Freqs that all FDs are supposed to have? What's your Local Gov't use for a Master Comms Plan? Do you assign or request a Command and Tac or how does your FD work it? As far as having (2) Freqs for (2) Stations, that seems different to me. Are both Stations so busy that they warrant separate Freqs?

    More information is needed as you can see.....
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    Mikeyboy:
    We are a composite department with two stations of 37 members, 3 engines, 1 ladder, and 1 rescue per station. Station 1 runs with an initial crew of four full time and the volunteers make up the rest and Station 2 is all volunteer members. Each station responds to all calls within their District.

    We have two frequencies available for use and each station has one they operate on at all times. We rarely have calls where both stations are on scene at the same time, one or two a year, but are training to better our communications at these larger events. It is during these training sessions we have run into the issues with communications. As I stated before we have been trying to train and enforce radio discipline but when we have several sectors, safety, rehab, etc…. going it gets to be almost too much chatter.

    We do not have much in place for protocols as of yet on district to district mutual aid and this was why I threw the question out there to see what others do.

    Thanks again to all for the comments and help.

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    Who does your dispatching? Is it done on one or both of the above mentioned frequencies? Or is it on another frequency altogether?

    How many channels/frequencies are configured in your radios? Do they include neighbors?
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

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    Our city police dispatch is our dispatch as well. If a call is in the district 1 territory a page goes out to station 1 on their frequency. The same is true with district 2.

    Each station then operates on their frequency. We do not have a dispatch frequency and a separate operational frequency.

    We have channels for both stations and all our rural mutual aid departments on all radios.

    Thanks

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    Huh..... Interesting.....

    What is the possibility of adding (1) channel and using it as a "Travel Net" such as we have in Cali?

    Ultimately, dealing with the lack of radio discipline is your solution. Much of your issues may go away with some good and solid Radio Comms Training.
    "Be LOUD, Be PROUD..... It just might save your can someday when goin' through an intersection!!!!!"

    Life on the Truck (Quint) is good.....

    Eat til you're sleepy..... Sleep til you're hungry..... And repeat.....

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    Radio discipline is number one and yes much easier said then done. Our department is paged on the main county freq. then switches to tac channels once on scene. Only command monitors all channels. We harp and preached that on scene firefighters don't need to hear every transmittion coming from dispatch.
    How ever other departments are still having problems as they have firefighters that want to act like command. ( to many chiefs no indians. ) to they tie up the freqs. It can get sad when a undisaplined fire department argues on the radio on canceling unneeded units as some firefighters think their needed and some don't. Yhe chiefs usually lets the bullies command the radio. Sad but true.
    Last edited by volfireman034; 05-14-2013 at 02:53 AM.

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