1. #1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post How's your radio system set up?

    Our county is in the process of planning a new radio system. It will include paging/dispatch, fire ground communications, etc., will include Fire, EMS, and Police.

    How is your system set up? Currently we are dispatched on the same frequency as we call out of service on (low band channel1). We have 2 low band and 4 UHF band frequencies for fire ground, TAC1 UHF repeats over to Channel3 lowband (mobile repeaters) for tactical use, the other 3 UHF TACs used as talk around frequencies.

    Our county covers an area of approx. 300 sq. miles. Problem we are having is our terrain is varied, the north is flat the middle and south is hilly. Our station sits in a valley in between and has many dead areas for radio transmissions.

    So 2 questions, what bands do you use and how many frequencies do you have available and for what?

    Thanks, any input on your system or experience is appreciated,


    [This message has been edited by fyrescue (edited October 23, 1999).]

  2. #2
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Our parish (county) is approx. 855 sqaure miles, with terrain almost identical to yours as described. We operated fully on VHF and have almost no problem with it. All Police, Fire and EMS are on VHF and it has worked well, with each FD officers having thier own channels to talk on, and fireground channels for operations.The range of talking here is great (about 70 miles from repeater).
    Hope this helps.


  3. #3
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Our City is located just Southwest of Houston. Majority of the Emergency Services in the area are on a 800 trunked system. In our County, there are 2 800 trunked systems. Half of the county is on one and the other half is on the other. This works out quite well. Our Fire Dept has 6 channels, Fire Dispatch, 3 Tac (Fireground) channels, 1 supervisor channel and a city common channel. The common channel is in the event of an emergency, we have the capabilities of communicating with other city services. We also have the capabilities of switching to any other agency on our 800 system or the other 800 system in the county. So communications is almost never a problem and always crystal clear, even radio to radio. We operate with Motorola MTS 2000. We page the volunteers with low band motorola minitor II's. Any questions please feel free to ask.

    David Hartley
    Stafford Fire/Rescue
    Stafford, Texas

  4. #4
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Our Fire & Rescue along with 2 other departments in our run area and the 2 next counties over just aquired a 800mhz trunked system(ERICCSON) We are located in the foot hills of the blue ridge mountains. We found that with trunked systems you have all or none, You either get perfect reception or no reception. For the most part all the bugs have been worked out now,(only about a year in service)The most unique part that we use alot is the ability to talk to the next county on mutual aid on a regional talk group also we can talk direct to deputies and they can give us size ups and other vital info.We still left our old system in service(high band)and dispatchers will simulcast when a call is dispatched.Each member recieved a portable radio and a pager(motorola-old system) so if you dont want to carry a portable on your side everywhere you go you can wear the pager and be toned out via the old system.All radio traffic is on the trunked system
    so far so good

  5. #5
    Firehouse.com Guest


    In my county we are on the 490 frequency range. There are some basic rules about the different frequency. The higher you go up the band, the more repeaters/antenna sites that you need to fill in the gap. Higher frequency radio waves go straight and have a hard time going thru buildings or mountains. That is why the celluar system has to put up so many cell sites to fill the gaps. A 800 system could cost up to MILLIONS of dollars and still not have it any better. It is problem that all fire dept. are having.

    One other problem is with 800 system if that the coputer controlling the system fails will you still have communications? Most problems is not the frequency but with the radio equipment not doing the job. Radio equipment is not made any more. Replace with the newer equipment. many questions to solve. Good luck Mike

  6. #6
    Rich McCane
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Our Department is 1 square mile. We are self-dispatched on a VHF-High channel that is shared by 8 other department using two-tone sequential paging units. All enroute, on-scene type traffic is conducted on this channel. Fireground/Tac type stuff is on a second VHF-High channel. Portables in all apparatus and carried by officers have capabilities to switch to area & statewide mutual aid frequencies but they are not installed in the dispatch console.

    Communication Officer
    Golf Manor (Cincinnati area) Police/Fire/EMS

  7. #7
    Rick Bond
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I don't know too much about the official party line on communications in the future, but you might want to contact someone at the FCC. Their was some talk about legislation of all Emergency Services Radio Systems. As I remember all systems had to be moved to 800mhz by a certain date. I would hate for someone to spend money on a system that may be phased out shortly. Good luck!


  8. #8
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Well the consultants are back with their proposals, They wanted to dispatch on VHF high band pagers and use UHF mobiles and portables for the fireground. Issue number one was everyone prefers the ability to "listen" to responding units on their pagers, can't do this if paging is on another band. Issue two was they want to move EMS from VHF high band to UHF also, using the same freq. for dispatch. Not a real problem, however all the hospitals are on VHF highband (statewide also). The consultants made no provisions to replace the hospital radios. You are certainly correct about tower site, currently with the low band system we have 2 tower sites, their UHF plan has 6, and we will more likely need 7. The plan was presented to our governing powers and police without too much concerns, but hit a wall when it hit the fire/EMS community. There were alot of un-answered as well as unasked questions. Bottom line, they are back to the drawing board. 800 trunking was presented as an option, it not a manditory FCC plan, but no one wants to be locked into a 1 vendor system, which you have with 800 band.

    Thanks for the replies,
    Be Safe,

    [This message has been edited by fyrescue (edited January 07, 2000).]

  9. #9
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Here is the way that our radios are set up:

    F-1 Main Dispatch
    F-2 County Fireground
    F-3 Local Police
    F-4 Local Fireground
    F-5 PASCOM (neighboring town dispatch)
    F-6 Tri-Boro Fireground (mutual aid)

    All of our frequencies are VHF. All dispatching is done on F-1 by my PD, as well as small fireground operations. Apparatus call in-service on this ch. and remain unless and officer makes the announcement to switch over to a FG freq. In the case of a major emergancy where multiple towns are needed from the county F-2 can be utilized for mass communications. F-3 is hardly used. Any fireground operations large enough that are contained to my town are handled on F-4. F-5 is only used when responding mutual aid north. My town is involved in a three boro mutual aid agreement, when operating with one or more of the other towns, F-6 is used for operations.

  10. #10
    Firehouse.com Guest


    My main concern is to keep things simple and easy -- use fewer frequencies, and more "talk discipline" to avoid congestion...

    That said, that's not quite what we have, but we work with it.

    Our Dispatch Center covers roughly 400 square miles in parts of 2 counties with 36 Fire Departments and 4 non-FD Ambulance Corps. Low-band frequencies are shared with 3 other regional dispatch centers covering 4 counties.

    Dispatch owns one tower, and piggybacks the State Police radio network to 5 other tower sites (6 total) used on a regular basis. Interestingly, we have several towers in the region were multiple dispatch centers share radio transmitters and access them through the S.P. network -- Plain Hill in Norwich at one time had 3 seperate regional dispatch centers that used the same transmitter on the tower!

    33.80 simulcast on 152.0075; Alpha-numeric paging through a commercial service now being used, too. Only dispatches on these frequencies.
    5 Low-band Operation and Mutual Aid frequencies
    16 Channel UHF system using fixed repeaters, mobile repeaters, and low-power tactical frequencies. However, we only worry about 4 UHF channels on a call:
    Channel 2 -- Fixed repeater & talk to Dispatch
    Channel 16 -- Fixed repeater, private talk between officers responding to scene
    Channel 7 -- low power tactical for ops on scene
    Channel 8 -- Mobile repeater to low-band frequency call is running on.
    Problem is with 16 friggin choices, try turning the knob to right channel with a gloved hand!

    I think if I answer this in two years, my department will be entirely on Alpha-numeric paging and UHF operations -- with Low Band only on mobiles in the trucks to use for mutual aid operations, and if I had to be a fortune teller, all low-band and voice paging will go away within the next 20 years region wide.

  11. #11
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Dalmation, do you use your alphanumeric paging system for dispatch? If so, how does it work? Our county talked about going to alpha paging for dispatch, but they said that the lag time would be up to 45 seconds, and so they wouldn't mess with it. Have you had better results?

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