Thread: Volunteers and Personal Radios
06-17-2000, 06:12 PM #1JR95Firehouse.com Guest
Volunteers and Personal Radios
Have any volunteer members purchased a portable radio for personal use in their department?
06-17-2000, 09:21 PM #2LooperFirehouse.com Guest
Several members in my dept have purchased their own radios. These are generally people not high enough on the food chain to be issued a department radio. The dept does not restrict this unless the person is irresponsible in using the radio.
In my case, I have a mobile radio (mounted in my truck) that the department issued. I just recently purchased a hand held unit that is programmed with our channels as well police channels (my regular job is a police officer). Nice to have when working a side job or just on the road in town.
If you want to buy a radio, a good place to look is on-line. Just make sure that whatever you get, it can be programmed for the fequencies you need.
06-18-2000, 12:26 AM #3NCRSQ751Firehouse.com Guest
Our department has some radios for use on duty, but many of our members have purchased their own personal radios.
We don't have enough to go around in a big incident otherwise (nor the budget to purchase more - we aren't on a tax base).
It's about the only way to have good communications on scene and/or handle multiple incidents easily. Most of our foks respond POV to our calls.
We do have written SOP's on radio procedure that must be followed or a person's privileges will be yanked. So far we really haven't had a problem.
Captain - Forsyth Rescue
North Carolina Strike Force 1
06-19-2000, 12:21 PM #4bob1350Firehouse.com Guest
At over $3,000 per radio. Not a chance. All volunteer officers are issued radios and alpha pagers. Volunteer firefighters are issued minitor II's(which will be going away due to our 800 MgH radios). All volunteers will be notified by alpha pager in the very near future.
06-19-2000, 12:33 PM #5FF.FOREVERFirehouse.com Guest
Bob1350 where in the hell are you buying your radios? $3,000 a piece must be some radio!
06-19-2000, 12:54 PM #6Bob SnyderFirehouse.com Guest
The company issues pagers (mostly Minitor IIs) to all active Engine Crew members who want them. A few people buy their own (they may run with multiple companies and want multiple tones, or whatever), but most don't. County Radio SOPs restrict mobile/portable access apparatus, officers and fire police, so regular members are not allowed to have any transmit capabilities of their own. The company issues portables to all officers and to any fire police who need them. I don't know of anyone, other than some fire police, who have bought mobiles or portables of their own.
06-19-2000, 05:22 PM #7FirefighterReedFirehouse.com Guest
Where in the world did you find somebody trying to sell you a portable radio for 3,000 dollars I'v never seen one that expensive. Our department buys all our communications equipment from Radio City local 2-way and fire pager dealer I think they have a website at fireequipment.hypermart.net. They have pretty reasonable prices.
06-19-2000, 09:50 PM #8st34ffFirehouse.com Guest
$3000 is about right for a new digital radio from motorola. My County just switched over to a fancy new system, a digital system. The radios cost us, after a bulk purchase deal from Motorola about $3000 each! So it is possible.
06-20-2000, 02:53 AM #9Brian DunlapFirehouse.com Guest
Our Company Officers are issued portable radios through the company....Yet a few of our firefighters have their own radios--My self included ...It's not a bad idea to have a radio on your person when entering a structure ...in my opinion just another tool and a piece of mind in the event a bad situation gets worse and you need the help...As long as you don't abuse the radio by tranmitting useless stuff it is a great tool to have on your person !!
06-20-2000, 09:53 AM #10Capt. SkippyFirehouse.com Guest
I read something here that scared the hell out of me!
bob1350 - Do mean the alpha pagers like the average citizen can purchase?! If so..BEWARE!
The paging system stacks the pages to be transmitted from the tower in the order received. If call volume is high, you can wait UP TO TWENTY MINUTES to receive a page!
I certainly hope that I have misinterpreted what you have written here, as I don't know of any citizen who would accept a delay of that degree for a dispatch.
Remember - Safety is a way of Life!
06-20-2000, 10:01 AM #11bob1350Firehouse.com Guest
Our dept. went to 800MgH radios late last fall. They are about $3,200 apiece. Every volunteer officer also got 2 batteries with their radio. They have LQD (lights up at night), capable of 30 talk groups. It also comes with a wet bar and TV/with 50 inch screen (just kidding). BTW, it is a Motorola. Yes, we dropped a ton of money on our new radio system, and a lot of us have severely critized it. At our recent wildland incident(Bobcat fire), we were told that we could not use 2 talk groups at once or the system would crash. Gee!! then, why in the hell do we have so many talk groups?
06-20-2000, 12:12 PM #12Bob SnyderFirehouse.com Guest
From what I've seen and heard regarding 800 Mhz systems, the ONLY people benefitting from this technology are Motorola and its stockholders.
06-20-2000, 01:16 PM #13E21Firehouse.com Guest
Are dept issuies only the officers of the dept radios, everyone else just has pagers. And bob I cant stop laughing at you those prices are not worth it for 800 system trust me. I know a few depts here in the north east that have them and they are fed up with it already. a comminucation nightmare.
06-20-2000, 01:44 PM #14bob1350Firehouse.com Guest
Yeah, your right about the stacking of alpha paging. Right now, we aren't officially using them for calls, just 1st alarm info, etc. At the present time, our paging is handled through Metrocall in Denver, and it is horrible. Sometimes you get pages within seconds, sometimes hours. One of our volunteer division chiefs got a Dive Team page 12 hours after the call(!!).
When we officially go to alpha paging, it will go through a priority system tied in with Larimer County Sheriff's Office. The system will have built in redundency and we'll be getting the pages immediately. Have you ever sat in a meeting when everyone's pager is going off, but not in unison? Thats what we get now. Don't worry Capt., our communication's officer has a lot of experience and I'm sure we'll hold on to those minitor II's along as we can keep the frequency.
You guys are right, these 800 radios are expensive, not worth it, tons of trouble, when you have officers near you, or apparatus around, it's easy to get confused when your talking on it because you'll hear your own voice a second later. I believe we paid a million or so to buy in with about 4 other entities to use all the repeaters and all the other stuff that comes with. I'll stick by my figure of $3,000 per packset.
Now, if Motorola could come up with an 800 minitor, but it's not even on their drawing board.
06-20-2000, 02:45 PM #15FirefighterReedFirehouse.com Guest
From the way you all talk about those 800 systems I'm glad I live in a rural community. Hopefully they'll never find out about that stuff. One thing I've learned around here the politicians and decision makers like to make us spend money we don't have and it is killing small volli depts. like mine. We don't even have enough money in our budget to buy pagers for new members and repair broken pagers. Most of our members are farmers so they don't exactly have money to purchase radios even though a very few have purchased some radios.
[This message has been edited by FirefighterReed (edited June 20, 2000).]
06-21-2000, 12:02 PM #16Capt. SkippyFirehouse.com Guest
Glad to hear that I didn't have all the information and paniced prematurely! Good luck on the comms...it sounds like a living nightmare!
Remember - Safety is a way of Life!
06-21-2000, 02:26 PM #17fjbfourFirehouse.com Guest
Our department supplies pagers and radios as long as they are in supply. At the moment all members have pagers, but we are still using some Minitors (the original) in that group. We have a few department-issued portable radios scattered amongst our officers and most active volunteers. A few of our members (including myself) have purchased radios on their own. Thankfully, the department covers programming, maintenance and repair on privately owned radios.
Radios are critical in our organization so that we can communicate where we are responding from, so that we can work out whether we have enough personnel responding to get equipment instead of responding direct. Our rural district is unique in that it borders a city along the North edge. The fire hall is located in the far South end of the district, where the population center was situated at the time the department was formed in the 1960's. The city's spread has shifted the population density (and the membership resident's density) to the Northern edge of the district (several members actually live in the City itself). Therefore, most of the time, we have members driving past the fire to get equipment. Were it not for the radios, we would not know when to stop passing the fire to get trucks.
Of course, all of the other perks are nice, too. On-scene communication is essential for safety, and I sure relish the priveledge of being able to get law enforcement help very quickly when I come across other problems, especially in that we can talk to City and County squad cars directly. I've had a hand in getting more than a few tickets issued to the worst of idiot drivers because I can talk the squad in right behind me where he/she can see the show without being obvious before making the stop. Another of our members shadowed a guy who he witnessed that robbed a store (who would have been suspicious of his maroon Dodge Ram two blocks back?) and led the squads right onto the guy. Sweeeet! And the officers really like it when we can help them like that, as long as we stay out of the way.
I'm sure we would revoke radio rights if anyone abused them, but it has never been an issue.
Frank Billington, #11
Town of Superior Fire Online
06-22-2000, 02:31 PM #18Engine 224Firehouse.com Guest
bob1350 and Capt. Skippy
ISO has noted the delay in the commercial pages and WILL NOT accept that service as an alarm notification circuit - for obvious reasons. Sounds like you are making the right decision to go through the Larimer County Sheriff's Office. Generally if the Department owns the system they will credit it - best check with the local ISO office to be sure.
06-22-2000, 02:42 PM #19bob1350Firehouse.com Guest
Thanks for the ISO information. Engine Co's will stll be alerted through individual station tones, printers and that pretty locution voice. Only the volunteer firefighter will be alerted by alpha pager.
06-28-2000, 06:41 AM #20*Chinaman*Firehouse.com Guest
I suppose the 800 system you guys are talking about (Motorolla) is similar to what we will be implementing in South Australia in the next xouble of months. The system cost the government 160Million Australian dollars. About 100Million US$.
We are not too sure what to expect.
It will be large sytem linking police, ems, and firebrigades (City and country).
It will be a complete new systems with new towers being built and pagers and radios issued.
It i imilar to the system implemeted in Georgia and used during the Atlanta Olypmics
If you would like to have a look at the homepage that is implementing this system here, go to: http://www.government.ics.sa.gov.au/SAGRN/index.shtml
Please let me know what you think.
Now jut to let you know the answer to the initial question:
Most vollies don\t carry radios, but we have scanners. This enable us to at least listen in. Higher commanders have radios issued to them. And then will be the case with the new system too....but I don;t think there'll be canner available for that (I wouldn't know).
06-28-2000, 10:04 AM #21bob1350Firehouse.com Guest
I have some sort of answer on your scanner question. At the present time, there are no scanners on the market that will scan 800 trunked systems. Don't beleive what any salesman tells you. Our Motorola's will scan two channels: the talk group you are using and our dispatch channel.
06-28-2000, 04:24 PM #22MetalMedicFirehouse.com Guest
Several members around this area have purchased their own portable radios. The biggest problem I see is that some departments have no real policy on their use. It is almost comical sometimes when a local department gets a call. For the first 10 minutes after the tones go off, it seems every member has to use their radio to say SOMETHING. More times than not, it is useless traffic.
I have a portable radio assigned to me for my full-time job as a police officer. However, when I need to talk to dispatch on fire related matters, I normally opt for the cellular phone rather than the radio. As I recall, FCC rules mandate that you use alternative means of communications whenever available rather than broadcasting on public safety frequencies.
Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.
06-28-2000, 05:44 PM #23JR95Firehouse.com Guest
Me departments serves a town of about 2 sq/mi and 8,000 residents. We have 3 engines and one ladder each has 3 or 4 portables and charges on board. We have an additional 4 radios for FAST team usage and one additional radio for our support van. Of course the chief has a portable radio and a backup. No members at this time have personal radios, with the exception of Minitors.
On the fireground, the driver and officer of each apparatus has a radio, and the additional radios are used when necesary for other various operations. There are no policies of who and who can not use radios.
[This message has been edited by JR95 (edited June 28, 2000).]
07-04-2000, 01:32 PM #24CrashFirehouse.com Guest
Our department issues the Officers one handheld and mobile radio for the top 4 officers.
I personally do not like for FF's to buy their own radios. If I were you I would not allow this practice. Some problems I had were, Illegal frequencies being programmed and used, irresponsible use of the radio's, and I became resposible for them on calls.
Last time I checked , The person with the radio shall have written permission to program and use the frequency. If not then it is a fine up to $10,000.00 per violation and possible loss of frequency to the " Owner" of the license. I remember dealing with the person who owned the frequencey and he asked me how many radios I had on it.
Also the County must give you permission to program and use the frequency before you can transmit on the main channel. Or that's how it's suppose to work here. (It doesn't)
I would just make sn SOG regarding purchasing and use of personal radios and pagers. I did when I was Chief. I had a fight on my hands but I did lower the insurance claims regarding torn up personal radios. You don't need the head ache.
Check on the FCC web page and research it for your own good before allowing this.
Bob 1350 Bearcat sells BC895 XLT says it scans truncked 800 mhz. I really don't know but thats what it says. (ccrane.com)
For thiose that want a good deal on motorola radios call Irene at EMI. They are in Nebraska. She killed everyone here in pricing! Great Radios to.
Half Moon VFD - Firefighter
Jacksonville City Fd -Driver 1
[This message has been edited by Crash (edited July 04, 2000).]
[This message has been edited by Crash (edited July 04, 2000).]
07-06-2000, 12:30 PM #25iresqFirehouse.com Guest
bob1350 - slight correction or additional info. There are scanners that will scan 800 trunked systems that are analog. Digital systems cannot be scanned. We use an 800 analog system and it has worked well. We cross dispatch on 154. for station and personnel pagers.
Negative, I am a meat popsicle.
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