1. #1
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    Question Sides 1-2-3-4 or A-B-C-D

    Here's the deal. In our County, the fire building is known as sides 1, 2, 3, and 4 with side 1 being the address side of the structure then going clockwise around the structure.

    Recently, I was advised that a company in our County is going to change how they name the sides of a structure. They are going to start calling the sides of the structure - Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta.

    With only 11 years in the fire service I will admit, I may be too young to be the type of person to dislike change, but I don't like the above change at all.

    Should I like this change? Are there reasons why this naming of sides that I just described shouldn't be done? What are your opinions guys?
    Chris Shields
    Lieutenant / EMT
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    East Syracuse Fire Dept
    Onondaga County, NY

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    B and D can sound awfully similar on a clogged up radio network.

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    Around here, we use Alpha, Bravo, etc. Using the phonetic avoids the confusion of "B" sounding like "D", which is a true concern. Is our way better than 1-2-3-4? No. Is 1-2-3-4 better? No. Your biggest concern should be that ONE company is changing, instead of everyone using the same method. THERE'S something that can cause confusion on a busy fireground. All your county chiefs should get together, pick one way for everybody, and stick with it.
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    Default E229 is right...

    Unless they already refer to them as Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta, I can see the confusion already, especially if you guys are still on low-band like we are down south of you. We use 1,2,3,4 and it works pretty well. Who knows what the terminology will be once they start implementing Unified Command.
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    I dont see how it matters in the least as long as everyone understands how the A/1 side are defined and the rotation (clockwise/counter clockwise)

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    We should all be on the same page with this type of thing.

    FEMA/NFA name sides using Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta... A is the front, then the letters are assigned clockwise around the building. This was hammmered on during a class I returned from down there.

    Levels of buildings are assigned division numbers: 1 is the first floor, 10 is the tenth floor. Subdivisions can be used for levels below ground.

    This way, if you hear a letter, you know it is a side of the building. Numbers refer to floors. If we all use different systems, it only makes it harder to work together.
    Last edited by Resq14; 10-02-2003 at 02:20 PM.
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    We use A,B,C,D and are switching to Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta. We don't use 1,2,3,4 as sides but we do use them as floors. Alpha-1 is Address side first floor. Charlie-3 is back side, third floor.

    For those that use the 1,2,3,4 as sides, out of curiousity, how do you differentiate floors? First floor, second floor, etc.


    Personally, I like the simple way of first floor, second floor. We only go as high as 5 floors in my town, so no Highrise to worry about. Kind of goes along with Clear Text - no interpretation needed, just saying what you mean. But I lost the discussion.
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    Yeah, what Resq14 said!

    I'm glad phonetics have become standard -- I learned the importance 4+ years ago when I took my Fire Officer I class and we lost a crew in one of the simulations 'cause the IC & Crew in Trouble couldn't tell the difference between "B" and "D"

    Also, if you have landmarks and you're in trouble, don't hesitate to use terms like "rear of residence" or "side the church is on" if your not positive of whether your Alpha/Bravo/Charlie/Delta. Routine messages like we've finished checking for extension you can take a minute for your bearings, urgent stuff if you don't know give a landmark.

    And remember, not all buildings are neat boxes on level lots. I'm reminded of the Pittsburgh triple LODD where one of the factors was confusion since the house was built into a steep hillside which floor was which. I've also seen mill fires from the ladder pipe where the chinese alphabet couldn't describe all the "sides"! Alpha names and floor numbers are good, quick short-hand but we also have to make sure our officers don't go to heck in a handbasket if they're confronted with a situation they can't call by those shorthand names. We act in a crisis as we're trained, and if all your training always assumed you'd always use "A-1" and your confronted with a serpentine apartment complex in a hillside, it could throw you for a loop.
    Last edited by Dalmatian90; 10-02-2003 at 02:50 PM.

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    In my area we had a problem with a dept whose chief was ex-military and labeled ABCD counter-clockwise. Now the rest of the depts and county SOP label clockwise. After a joint training session were my engine company threw a ground ladder to the B side of their station when he wanted it on his B side we had a little meeting and got them to join the rest of world. The point being that such a confusion @ a fire scene when the entire county is on one page and ONE dept is on another could lead to a horrible outcome.

    Now if we could just get them to get rid of their iron pipe thread attack lines (their the only ones with them)
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    My department uses the numerical way of identifying exposure sides of a structure and I personally like that better than using letters. But some towns around us use letters, but I don't find that it really confuses anyone. Well it does'nt confuse me, if someone says side C I know that would also be side 3. So I don't really see a problem with the variation. Although it is always nice to have uniformity.

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    We currently use A B C D as well. We just switched actually. Before that we always used; east, west, etc. Finally someone said it's too confusing, so the Dept switched. It's still new to most of the guys, so it will probably only be a matter of time before, Alpha, etc, is used. I have already seen confusion with B vs. C etc at fires.
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    Default Keep it coming

    Resq14,

    What you said is exactly how their doing it. Now that I have heard some feed back on it, maybe it isn't as bad as I thought.
    Chris Shields
    Lieutenant / EMT
    Haz-Mat Technician
    East Syracuse Fire Dept
    Onondaga County, NY

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    A,B,C,D for sides/exposures and floors are Divisions 1,2,3,4, etc

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    Sig.99

    You know how hard it is to get the County on the same page....

    Numbering or Lettering is just the beginning!!!

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    Default LOL

    Hey, you found me. Actually, I know this isn't something that will go Countywide and to tell you the truth, it's not my department that is implimenting this change. It's a mutual aid department that is. Most of our officers already agreed that sides 1-4 is working just fine.
    Chris Shields
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    East Syracuse Fire Dept
    Onondaga County, NY

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    Originally posted by firenresq77
    A,B,C,D for sides/exposures and floors are Divisions 1,2,3,4, etc
    Same here. It is a little complicated because our community is built into the side of the mountain, and every large condo/hotel building (4 stories +) has at least two floors partially below ground. We use the main road-side ground level entrance lobby as Alpha 1 for consistency between the divisions and sub-divisions.

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    we use the 1234 but as my neighbor pointed out they are of the ABCD variety ......just gotta kinda know the coresponding sides. I am sure sooner or later we will rollin over toe ABCD way........and to me it really makes no difference as long as you know what side goes to which number or letter......
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    Originally posted by Weruj1
    we use the 1234 but as my neighbor pointed out they are of the ABCD variety ......just gotta kinda know the coresponding sides. I am sure sooner or later we will rollin over toe ABCD way........and to me it really makes no difference as long as you know what side goes to which number or letter......
    We made the switch to ABCD when the "big city" did last year. I believe they made the change due to the accredidation process.

    As others have pointed out, as long as phoenetics are used it works fine. B & D are too similar otherwise and it leads to confusion.
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    We have used 1 - 4 for since we started ICS. Our whole County operates that way. Recently, the powers that be, decided we should conform to the "National Standard". My only issue is, why change now? We've been using 1 - 4 for years with no problem. It's not likely that we will be operating with a department that uses the alphabet anytime soon, and the interim confusion and havoc created will create more than a few headaches. The alphabet way was in vogue when we started and the County opted not to use it. Leave well enough alone.

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    Providence uses Sides 1-4, Quadrants A-E (I know, it sounds weird to me too but it makes sense, sorta), and Sectors 1-? (? being the floor above ground).

    So, if "Sector 3 officer" reports s/he is overhauling Quadrant D Side 4, you know that s/he is on the third floor of the building, working in the upper righthand corner on the left side of the building looking at it from the street.
    Last edited by CollegeBuff; 10-02-2003 at 09:54 PM.

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    SIGNAL99COM,

    Got to love the side 1-2-3-4. It's easy to identify each side of the fireground with. And Onondaga County-Syracuse, NY. My old stomping ground. I lived in Onondaga County for 12 years of my life. I live in California now. And I love Signal99.com. I have to say though, it could use some updating. Post more incident photos.

    God Bless, Take Care and, Stay Safe.

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    Last edited by brubaker; 10-02-2003 at 10:14 PM.
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    Originally posted by CollegeBuff
    Providence uses Sides 1-4, Quadrants A-E (I know, it sounds weird to me too but it makes sense, sorta), and Sectors 1-? (? being the floor above ground).

    So, if "Sector 3 officer" reports s/he is overhauling Quadrant D Side 4, you know that s/he is on the third floor of the building, working in the upper righthand corner on the left side of the building looking at it from the street.
    In class at NFA, we practically got our hands slapped if we said "sectors." Where I'm from, it used to be a common term. The instructors were easy-going about it, but the point was driven home when people started using terms interchangeably, then everyone became lost on the radios. If you stick to one way of communication as a profession, it only helps to clarify things. And while it might make sense to use 1-2-3-4 on a regional or county level, what happens when you cross county lines? Or what happens when you try to interface with an USAR team following a disaster? That is hardly the time to try and standardize communications.

    Groups = functional assignment (vent group, search group, etc)
    Divisions = geographic assignments (floors, etc)

    You can avoid the use of quadrants by calling corners something like "Alpha-Bravo" or "Charlie-Delta".
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    Just a quick two cents on the B and D argument. If you are, or if you think you will mix those up on the radio, it is not the ABCD system that is the issue it's your radio procedures.

    It really makes no difference whether you write A, B, C, or D on the command map, as long as you use proper radio procedures and pronounce them phonetically when you are communicating to people.

    Your guys should be trained to use phonetics anytime they are relaying single letters, or tricky words over the radio (or even P2P in a noisy environment). If your Officers don't like the idea of writing out Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, etc. Fine, just make sure they are using good radio techniques to eliminate any confusion.
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    Look at the bright side folks. At least nobody, as yet, uses N, S, E, W.

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