1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Sitting in my chair, listening to the scanner while the young kids respond

    Smile Let's get Michigan on board

    No one has posted anything for Michigan, so I will start. I would like to hear reports from any Michigan fire depts. that are useing the state police 800 Mhz radio system. Does it work? What are the costs? Do you use portables or just mobiles? What about working with neighboring depts.? I know the system is new and controversial in the fire service, but I still have an open mind. Let's see your posts.

    "If it was not impossible, someone else would do it"

    Pete Sinclair
    Hartford, MI
    IACOJ (Retired Division)

  2. #2
    fergus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002


    we went to an 800mHz system about three years ago.
    It's great! You don't have to worry about people calling you on the radio with annoying "assignments" or "runs", because you can't hear them!
    And if you use a digital 800 system, forget about anyone understanding a word you say if you have your mask on. It will be extremely garbled.

    I have talked to a lot of people who use 800 systems, and I have seen the same problem everywhere: City council decides tht the start up cost is a bit too much, and opts to cut back on the number of towers installed- this results in your typical half-*****ed 800 system; the kind of system where your radio will cut out if you go into a basement, or are inside a building away from any windows.

    If you are going to an 800 system, do it properly. Make sure enough towers are installed, and talk to people besides the motorala reps (try calling depts. that already use 800, see what they say).

    The start up cost can be in the millions, and the portables can cost $3,000 to $4,000, but if you do it right, you'll probably be glad you did.

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Dec 2002

    Thumbs up

    Here in Lapeer County, we are on an 800Mhz system, and for the most part I think it works very well. There are a few areas in the corner of our township where reception is poor, but it's a matter of geography. That area is in the shadow of the highest land in the county, so any system will have trouble reaching it.

    One thing that I really like about the system is the way it's broken into 'channels' instead of frequencies. Each department has their own "Administration" channel, where you can do any of your interdepartment communication, without worrying that you're going to step on someone elses traffic. On the fireground, the county has set up 4 separate "incident" channels, so all units on a scene can go to a single incident channel for shared communication, and there is no cross over traffic from any other scene. For areas where the coverage is poor (as described above) we can switch to one of the available "talk around" channels, and the radios then function like the high-band systems, directly transmitting radio to radio.

    Communications with neighboring counties can be difficult, unless it is all preplanned in the system. They can define "patches" as needed, to rebroadcast any of our channels onto high-band frequencies, and vice-versa. I have to say, I haven't actually had a chance to successfully use this yet..... I could have, but it wasn't set up...

    Another advantage is range - I can talk to anyone in the county from my handheld, and even a long way out of county. My handheld has worked from the City of Flint to Cass City to Port Huron. Going south isn't good.... Don't ask me why...

    Another advantage (or disadvantage to some!) is that each radio has a unique indentifier in the system. If a mike is stuck, dispatch knows exactly what radio is causing the problem. If you can't talk, but can key your mike, you will be recognized, and dispatch will start trying to track you down (at least on certain channels - if you key up on Fire Central and don't speak, you can expect central to come right back and ask if you have traffic)

    I never used the high band systems here, but I see them in use in Genesee County every day, and they seem to have more radio problems than we ever do... I know Genesee county is switching to 800Mhz, and their testing showed much IMPROVED coverage inside of building than the have now...

    If we could just get Lapeer and Oakland Counties to share a tower in our southern corner...we'd both be even better!

    Volunteer/Paid on Call/Full time - we're all professionals. Be careful and stay safe.

  4. #4
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Marquette Township, Mi.

    Default UP North

    Hi Pete, up north (Marquette County) we're just getting started with 800 mhz. The State Police have been on line about a month now. The other police agencies in the county are going to start coming on line. Fire and EMS are a mixed bag to say the least. I think 3 fire departments committed tp buy portables at the last county association meeting. No EMS are that I know of. My department (Marquette Township Fire and Rescue) runs Fire and 1st responder EMS, we do not transport. The cost of the radios and the 200.00 a year per unit fee and 50.00 program fee just dosn't seem worth it to us. As we are both paid and part paid we need a paging system which 800 can't do. We do as most areas, have a mess when we have a major incident and call in other agencies. Never enough radio channels to go around. 800 mhz. would help in this reguard. Coverage seems to be good. The State put a ton of towers in up here because of the terrian. Will let you know how it works out.

    My station email is redmtfd@myvine.com

  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber
    firechick76's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2002


    Hey there Marquette Township... I'm out here in Chocolay! It was interesting to see someone on here that's from around here. I'm not on a dpt. yet. Getting ready to head over to Lake State for Fire Science. I have lots of friends on your dpt. Keep up the great work!
    The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn...

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