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Thread: A radio for every firefighter

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    Default A radio for every firefighter

    I am a member of a fire department that was in the news recently for a close call. In conversations with the chief after the incident, he has expressed that it is not necessary for every member on the fireground to have a radio. I highly disagreed with him. I have been doing a lot of searching for materials to help prove my point. Now I am going to the masses to continue to load up. What can you guys n gals give me?


    Thank You
    Walk

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    Just curious, why do you think that every firefighter shouldnt have a radio?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MidazoWHAM! View Post
    Just curious, why do you think that every firefighter shouldnt have a radio?
    I think he's trying to say every firefighter SHOULD have a radio:

    "In conversations with the chief after the incident, he has expressed that it is not necessary for every member on the fireground to have a radio. I highly disagreed with him."

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    Quote Originally Posted by bcwalk1 View Post
    I am a member of a fire department that was in the news recently for a close call. In conversations with the chief after the incident, he has expressed that it is not necessary for every member on the fireground to have a radio. I highly disagreed with him. I have been doing a lot of searching for materials to help prove my point. Now I am going to the masses to continue to load up. What can you guys n gals give me?
    Thank You
    Walk
    Well, I'll agree with your Chief here a little bit. I wouldn't say that it's necessary for every member to have a radio, but I would say that every team should have one. If the team stays together as they should, the leader can communicate to command and receive assignments.

    I do agree that it would be beneficial for every firefighter to have a radio, but in reality, it's too expensive for most departments to supply every riding position with it's own radio.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eng34FF View Post
    Well, I'll agree with your Chief here a little bit. I wouldn't say that it's necessary for every member to have a radio, but I would say that every team should have one. If the team stays together as they should, the leader can communicate to command and receive assignments.

    I do agree that it would be beneficial for every firefighter to have a radio, but in reality, it's too expensive for most departments to supply every riding position with it's own radio.
    And what happens when the guy with the radio goes down?? Everyone on the scene may not need a radio, but every interior or hot zone FF needs one. It may be that there is only one radio per team, but that should not be the standard. The goal should be to equip every FF with a radio.

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    I would say that a lot depends on the types of structures the department usually operates in.

    If they operate in primarily single-wides or single-level single family homes of average size, say less than 2200-2400 sf, one radio per crew is, and they tend to stay together and operate as a crew, IMO, not an issue.

    On the other hand if they are a department that tends to split the crew up into single-firefighter functions, especially if they find themselves typically on differing levels, is in an area where basements are common , operate in larger homes, or commonly operate in commercial structures, especially in areas where truss and lightweight construction is common, I would agree that every FF operating interior should have a radio.

    On both my combo and volunteer department, every member is given a radio. We have found that radios are the same cost as a quality pager.

    Of course the other issue is how much does the department have to purchase radios? Will they dig significantly into other areas such as PPE replacement?
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

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    Every member on the fireground does not really need a radio. But...., as was mentioned, unless your whole district is nothing but trailers or small homes, then every Firefighter who enters an ILDH atmosphere should have a radio. Sending in a team with only one member having a radio is dangerous and stupid for a number of reasons.

    1. No redundancy. If the one radio fails (Dead battery or some other issue), you now have a team with ZERO ways to communicate with the IC. The entire basis of NEVER entering an IDLH atmosphere alone is the same reason you should never enter with only one radio. Because if you get into trouble, you have another person to help you out. The same goes for radios. Is anybody here going to tell me that they have never had a radio fail in their department?

    2. You could end up seperated. Sure, the "rules" say you are not supposed to leave your partner, but how often is that rule followed? History proves that Firefighters spilt up all the time. Are you going to tell me that you have NEVER lost sight or feel of your partner doing a large area search? You don't have to be that far apart to lose communication either. Lets say you go in as a two person team with one radio. While crawling in zero visibility, the person in front (the only one with the radio) drops off into a shaft or hole in the floor. Now what? You now have no way to even tell anybody about what happened untill you make it all the way back outside. You could have a wall or cieling collapse seperate you from you partner with a radio as well.

    While i agree it's not always finanically possible for a department to have a radio for everybody. BUT, their is no reason or excuse to not equip ALL Firefighters who are entering an IDLH atmosphere with a radio. The Firefighters standing around outside waiting to go in or pulling hose do not NEED radio's. They have the luxury of not having to wear a mask or be in zero visibility and can communicate easily. I have NEVER been on a fire scene where i was not in ear shot of at least half a dozen other Firefighters or Offciers with a radio. Every piece of apparatus has a radio and 99.9% of them have a PA speaker. So everyone on the scene can hear what is going on. If you have twenty plus Firefighters and only 10 radios, how many guys are inside that you have no way to give them a radio?

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    Any member at anytime could find them self needing to call a mayday. So yes, it's necessary. That's not mentioning any other urgent message a member might find the need to transmit.

    On my dept every member carried a radio. I can count on one hand the number of times I've talked on it, but many times I've been glad I could hear the other traffic and the fire reports.

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    I have been on the job for a LONG time. It wasn't until roughly 5-6 years ago that EVERY position ws given a radio. For anyone to say that a firefighter does not need a radio is plain ignorant. The truth is that firefighters get separated from their crews and get lost in buildings.

    Why don't all firefighters have radios? It's simple, the cost of a typical portable is about $2,500. Multiple this by the number of positions and it can be a big number. When we are trying to keep fire stations open, giving radios to each position can tend to take a back seat. I'm not saying it's right, I am saying that that's reality.
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    A decent conventional handheld radio in most bands can be had for under $1000. But, many departments are going to trunked systems where the cost per radio can be easily be triple that, as BCL points out.

    And, as has been pointed out, finding that money can be a challenge, especially if you're having to hold bake sales to put fuel in the trucks. Ten radios at $3000 each exceeds some rural fire departments' annual budgets.

    On the cultural side, some areas encourage giving every firefighter a radio. Their radio discipline is such that it works for them. Other areas don't have such discipline - there are just too many people who love to hear themselves talk on the radio (whether they have something to say or not).

    That said - having a radio for every suppression firefighter is certainly a goal to work toward.

    Still, there are folks who simply have no reason to have a radio (ie, the yard breathers/support personnel we've been discussing elsewhere) unless they hold a key operating function (rehab officer, staging).
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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    Two quick Answers:........

    Yes.

    No.


    Yes, Everyone SHOULD have a Radio. Eng34FF's area had a job go bad real quick, and almost a dozen members went to the Hospital. One of the things that helped avoid more Injuries was that there were plenty of Radios on the Fireground that night, and that folks were able to communicate. Had things been worse, I could have been attending a couple of Funerals. One of the guys who ended up going to the Hospital was my Nephew.......

    No, Everyone having a Radio does not mean everyone should be talking on it. Until our recent cutover to our new system here, many of our Members, including me, purchased their own Radio, in addition to the Radios on the Apparatus. Often, everyone Had a Radio. We were on the 494-495MHz band, and Motorola HT1000 portables were fairly cheap. Today, we're on a 700MHz Digital System where a Portable costs upward of $3,500.00 each. We're still working toward enough Radios so the every riding position will have one, but it's going to take a while.........
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    My apologies, i misread the original post. What is the reason that your chief doesnt feel that every FF should have a radio? Im assuming its the cost?

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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods View Post
    Two quick Answers:........

    Yes.

    No.


    Yes, Everyone SHOULD have a Radio. Eng34FF's area had a job go bad real quick, and almost a dozen members went to the Hospital. One of the things that helped avoid more Injuries was that there were plenty of Radios on the Fireground that night, and that folks were able to communicate. Had things been worse, I could have been attending a couple of Funerals. One of the guys who ended up going to the Hospital was my Nephew.......

    No, Everyone having a Radio does not mean everyone should be talking on it. Until our recent cutover to our new system here, many of our Members, including me, purchased their own Radio, in addition to the Radios on the Apparatus. Often, everyone Had a Radio. We were on the 494-495MHz band, and Motorola HT1000 portables were fairly cheap. Today, we're on a 700MHz Digital System where a Portable costs upward of $3,500.00 each. We're still working toward enough Radios so the every riding position will have one, but it's going to take a while.........


    To add to Harve, Yes everyone on the apparatus and crew needs a portable radio. If for some reason you become separated and get into trouble, how will you call for help or notify someone you need help?

    Only the Officer of the company usually does the taking but the crew will be kept informed of the operation. Radios are expensive. Grants are available for them. When switching from analog to digital systems, cities and fire department can build this into the equipment needs. You can figure a type 2 800 MHz Trunked radio will run about $4000. It is all part of the system; just like all the turnout gear we use it.

    Look at it this way, every police officer has a portable radio on their person. Why shouldn't every firefighter in the company, doing a job as we do not have one?
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

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    Every Class A Firefighter is ISSUED a radio in my department.....
    Lieutenant
    Joel Chouinard
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    Cairns Leather, the only choice!

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    Every firefighter working in an IDLH area should have a radio, BUT also know when to use it and when to zip it. If everyone and their mother is trying to talk at once it becomes an issue and can become a very big problem.
    "If it was easy, someone else would of done it already." - Lt. Ray McCormack FDNY

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    There should be a radio for every seat on every rig, period. No one knows when a person is going to go wayward, or reassigned on a scene. It isn't so much about being in a IDLH, but comm on operations outside the IDLH, or even an MVA. Radio discipline starts as a cadet/rookie/boot on any department.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FIREMECH1 View Post
    There should be a radio for every seat on every rig, period. No one knows when a person is going to go wayward, or reassigned on a scene. It isn't so much about being in a IDLH, but comm on operations outside the IDLH, or even an MVA. Radio discipline starts as a cadet/rookie/boot on any department.

    FM1
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    Another reason for every firefighter to have a radio.. consider the fact that radios always crap out at the worst possible moment....
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    Every member of My department has a radio, That does not mean that every member is on that radio however, It is good for all firefighters to carry a radio as it was mentioned earlier " What if the one guy that has a radio goes down?"
    The cost is nothing compared to the risk in my humble opinion.
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    Every seat on every apparatus should have a radio (chief's buggies should have as many as normally ride in it). Just like a PFD on a boat... everybody should have one. You might not need it, you might not even wear it... but it is RIGHT there.


    That is your LIFE PRESERVER should things go to hell.


    The costs are minimal. You don't have to spend thousands. We spent around $500 for each radio back when we first started the program.

    These were low end Motorolas that were not trunked. However, for fireground you don't need trunked radios. Overtime we upgraded to a more public safety type radio that runs around $1000/each.

    They should also have an identifier so that when you key up (I prefer the post key-up identifier, so you don't have that long tone that could delay an urgent message). This way even if you simply key it up, it could be determined what radio is broadcasting. This is good for open mic's and god forbid...
    Last edited by ChiefKN; 04-30-2012 at 10:26 AM.
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    I am a firm believer that there should be one radio per SCBA +1 for the driver. Having only one per crew or every other FF or whatever is simply not acceptable. What happens when that person falls through the floor? Or gets trapped? Or lost/separated? or any of the two thousand other things that can happen inside of a fire. You going to run out to get help? As previously stated no FF should be entering an IDLH atmostphere without a radio. That being said my dept. doesn't have one per pack but we're getting there, slowly but surely, with the biggest resistence belonging to the "overload of radio comms" camp. While they have a pont as long as you employ proper training and most importantly discipline it should not be an issue; enforce strict radio discipline at every call from the fourth smell and bell of the day to the 10 cent accident to the oh ***** mill fire and cut job.
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