1. #1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post codes vs plain text

    Lets hear some opinions on on how everyone feels about codes and signals. Are they really needed, and if so for what reasons. I know that they cut down on the radio traffic in a sense, but with plain text there is no misunderstanding. Plain text is also more effective when dealing with mutual aid calls. I work two departments and and i would be all screwed up trying to use different codes for each one. Codes and signals are not universal as is plain text. Lets hear what you folks have to say.


  2. #2
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Plain text is only as effective as the commonality of definitions.

    What is a Squad?
    What is a Tanker?
    What is a Working Fire?
    Is there a difference between a Building Fire and a Structure Fire?
    What does In Service and Out of Service mean?
    Would you like a FAST, RIT, or FART?
    What is a Medic?

    Codes for routine messages are fine, especially when you typically work with mutual aid departments sharing common frequencies and codes. They convey specific meanings in an abbreviated format saving radio time.

  3. #3
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I totally agree with Dalmation. Most of us in my county use the same terminology, so we basically understand eachother. We do not use "codes", but we do have our own names that we call things and some of them are kind of exclusive to our county, because when you say it around an out-county firefighter, they have a hard time figuring out what you are talking about.

  4. #4
    Firehouse.com Guest


    The original reasoning behind the use of radio codes was that the quality of radio transmissions was terrible to just barely passible. The shorter the transmission, the better, for obvious reasons.

    These days, with radio quality light years better (some of the digital stuff can approach broadcast quality), there is simply no good reason to use codes (which have to be memorized, cannot be used for mutual aid with other counties, and can lead to problems if the transmitter is off by one number, sending the entirely wrong message).

    On the other hand, there is every good reason to speak in plain English - if it's an engine, say engine. If it's a ladder, say ladder. If you have a working fire, state that it's a working fire. All this "379, 10-2, 10-5 with a 10-12, over" crap is a waste of valuable brain power, and actually introduces an extra brain processing step to decode before you get the message. Why the hell do that when you can simply say "Engine 79 is on location, I have a working fire. Smoke showing from the second floor, side 2"?

    Plain English.

    J. Black

    The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated.

  5. #5
    Firehouse.com Guest


    10 codes are okay for a closed radio situation. For mutual aid, multiple dept. and agency interaction it isn't a good policy.
    In a closed system a common definition of all codes and situations enables users to speak in an abbreviated manner.
    Saying 10's, I've heared enables an almost objective way of stating a bad situation. The codes afford the user to maintain a discipline of usage. Using words forces a user to explain what they see, which over the air makes others envision the incident. An incident they aren't at yet and can't work on.
    10-codes have their place, but without uniformity they aren't practical.
    Just my 0.02.

  6. #6
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Now I'm wondering...

    Is BucksEngine using a more broad term for working fire than I do (I consider it considerable flames showing)? Does he simply have smoke gently wafting from the second floor? Or does he have flames roaring out of the first floor, and heavy smoke under pressure pouring from the second?

    If you're gonna go plain english, and I certainly think it's appropriate for giving size-ups, stay away from "jargon" like "Working Fire" or "All-Hands" which have different meanings to different people.

    (btw, both terms come from "All Hands Working" which meant a fire the officer-in-charge felt would require the committment of all firefighters responding on the initial alarm. It was a headsup to dispatch that an extra alarm would probably be struck in short order. Nowdays many people consider anything with flames showing 'working' and you can hear departments give a "On Scene, we have a working fire in a lawnmower with no exposures..." which makes you wonder how many people it takes to put out a riding mower...)

  7. #7
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I know i probably work in a much smaller, scaled down system then anyone in here, but we rely on mutual aid at almost every structure fire and we have decided that it is easier to understand clear text radio traffic by far than try to understand the vast 10 codes used by the different departments. oh well you have one vote here for clear text!

    Speak English, everyone understands that language!!!!!

    Will Roberts
    Firefighter II/ EMT-B
    Heucks Retreat Fire Department
    Brookhaven, MS

  8. #8
    Firehouse.com Guest


    The use of 10 code in the fire service is garbage. Why do we need to save radio time? We are talking about a few extra words. Your radio traffic is so busy that you need the codes to keep it down? I say "Keep it simple" by TALKING concisely and briefly. Buckseng91 is right on.

  9. #9
    Firehouse.com Guest


    If you want to work within the actual ICS system that the NFA recomends, 10-signals and codes are not to be used. The reason for this is so that another department doesn't get confused or a rookie firefighter knows whats happening. In my department we never use ten-codes. We also use ICS on EVERY incident so we get into the habit of using it.

  10. #10
    Firehouse.com Guest


    In my dept we all agree that plain text is the best for us. We too mutual aid alot and it would be too confusing if everyone had codes.
    We have a county wide organization that meets bi-monthly to discuss fire issues. Several years ago it was discussed that all depts in the county would use plain text. Most depts have complied. Makes things simple. We try to use the KIS method on most operations of the dept. Keep It Simple.

  11. #11
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I think that plain text is best so long as everyone shares the same terminology. The county that our station is in uses plain text for Fire and EMS services. Only the Police and EMA use 10 codes. Most of the counties next to ours use Plain text as well. It makes life so much easier. The county used to use two sets of numbers for apparatus and officers. The first set was the station number and the second set indicated the type of apparatus wether its a Engine or tanker and so fourth. The Ems and Police department still use two sets of numbers. As well as the Fire Police.

  12. #12
    Firehouse.com Guest


    We never used the term "working fire". You had (light, heavy, no) smoke showing, or fire showing. In a large building, how much (lt smk from 2nd floor of a 3 story SFD...).

    For your riding lawnmower w/no exposures "flame showing from a lawnmower - Eng. 3 w/1 inch & a half - return all other companies to service".

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