Thread: Digital paging

  1. #1
    Chief 51-17 Guest

    Question Digital paging

    Our County coordinator and 911 coordinator are talking about going to digital paging - Alpha numeric. When asked if the pagers were loud enough to wake up a FF at night, the reply was to put them in a tin can so they make more noise.
    Does anyone out there have any comments on digital paging ? Would appreciate any pros or cons.

  2. #2
    BillMc Guest

    Thumbs up

    In Marin County, CA many of the fire departments have migrated to alphanumeric paging. Those dispatched by the County Communcations Center enjoy an interface with the CAD so there are AUTOMATIC activations at dispatch (for Battalion Chiefs) and for all others at Second Alarm, Third, and so on.

    The page displays the alarm level, incident type, location, cross street, city and map page.

    It has worked very well for us for over three years.


  3. #3
    TRicker Guest


    In Monroe County, NY - Alpha numeric paging has been around for about 4 years or so. Seems to work great. My volunteer department is what is called an incident routing agency. Simply put, because we have our own in house dispatcher, we get the job as soon as the call taker sends it away from his/her screen. As long as our dispatcher ack's the job the 911 fire dispatcher doesn't even get involved.

    Plus your adminsitrative stuff stays off the airwaves. No more tones for E1 out of service mechanical. A simple alpha page to anyone person or everyone in the dept. for any announcement.

    Even though we have told the county that we don't want to go to Alphanumeric only dispatching, guys bitch like hell when the paging system goes down.

    We really like it.

  4. #4
    NCRSQ751 Guest


    Our County just started doing this recently, another county near us has been at it about a year. Both counties still do dual dispatch via the old pagers and the alphanumeric - and there is no plan to change that any time soon.

    Pros: You reduce radio traffic asking for addresses and cross streets again (and again in some places).

    Cons: Most times the paging is in line with the rado paging - but there can be large delays up to hours or even pages never received. If the paging systems are down - which occurs significantly more often than with radio pagers - you don't get a message to tell you they are down.

    I think it's a great idea, and as a backup it's nice - but my department doesn't intend to rely on it until the technology is better.

    As for can you hear it - the new motorollas are pretty loud - the tin can idea is a good one. For those who don't want to be woken up when not on duty - most have a private time setting that allows you to gather pages without an alert.

    Susan Bednar
    Captain - Forsyth Rescue
    North Carolina Strike Force 1

  5. #5
    BUGGY5632 Guest


    I am looking for info. about text paging. I am doing a study for my Comm. Center about using Text paging to notify our Dispatchers about emergency callbacks, severe weather, overtime etc.

    Did your entire staff agree to carrying the pager and if so, was there any extra incentives or a pay premium involved?

    Did your union get involved?

    Any help in the issue would be greatly appreciated.

  6. #6
    hfdfao Guest


    We currently use alphapagers as a 2ndary means of notification for our Department. Primary recall is done thru regular Motorola Minitor II pagers on our Fire Alarm frequency. We use Pagemaster software set up with command line paging(batch files) so that all you have to do to page is point and click.

    Remember, when the Chief says "gimme a second" he might just be collecting his thoughts!

    Dave LeBlanc

  7. #7
    Firefighter194 Guest


    We use both at our Communications Center.
    The ALPHA pagers are nice and convienent, but they are not totally reliable. There have been times when the server has gone down or the paging company network has crashed. If your local fire/ems agencies have minitors, I would highly suggest that the continue to use them because you can't trust the ALPHA pagers 100%

    Never pet a burning dog!

  8. #8
    Warren Vaughn Guest


    I have to go along with the majority here. I have departments that have gone totally to alpha/ numeric paging and have problems sometimes with the message getting through. Using A/N to call in back up or off duty folks is good. Using it as a primary alert source is not.


  9. #9
    harwintonfire Guest

    Thumbs down

    I realize that the emergency service world is in a hurry to do to alpha paging. I am an 18 year veteran of the harwinton fire department. Also, I have a bachelors degree in Electronics (majoring in RF) hold FCC and PCIA licenses, etc....
    I hate digital paging in the fire service. The most important thing I hate about it is that the first due can not give updates to all the rest of the unwashed membership that does not have a radio installed in the vehicle. Also, when everyone holds an analog pager, everyone has a receiver that lets them monitor what is happening.

    Guess I'm a dinosaur (and proud of it)

  10. #10
    scc911 Guest


    While I think it's silly for anyone to suggest putting a pager in a coffee can to make it louder, I believe alphanumeric paging is an underutilized tool for the fire service.

    Concerns are usually about not receiving updates. If there is a CAD system, then the CAD can be (in most cases) configured to send updates to everyone based on what the telecommunicator enters into the call history.

    Alpha is more time and spectrum efficient, can be configured to simulcast easily and will work at much lower signal levels (and for that matter, in much noisier environments) than tone and voice pagers do and even with "voice storage" an alpha pager will capture the entire message so it can be reviewed instead of recording 30 seconds worth of paging tones. In less than 30 seconds, you'd have all of the dispatch info.

    While alphapager models are constructed for consumer use now, if there is a niche for the fire service then they can be constructed with a much louder alerting tone. Another consideration is how effective a tone/ voice pager will be if it is working in a narrowbanded (11.25 kHz wide) channel space. Many receivers will not decode high or low paging tone frequencies if the deviation isn't "just right."

    Also consider the differences between having your own system and transmitters and leasing pagers from a busy paging company or one that operates on non-exclusive frequencies. Sometimes a paging company can take several minutes to empty its buffer and send your fire call. Okay for a plumber, but unaceptable in the fire service. Your own system will send the message out immediately.

    Steve Makky, Sr., ENP

  11. #11
    Firekatz04 Guest


    We use both. Only 2 drawbacks to A/N only. Loudness isn't an issue. You can always leave the pager near your head. The issues are... receiving a page while driving... and receiving a page while sleeping.

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