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  1. #1
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    Default Fire Station ALerting

    How does your Department alert the station that will respond to calls. Do you have tones for each station? Just bells? One set of tomes for all stations? Do you hear every station that gets a call all the time or can you turn off your monitors?

    There has been talk about changing our system from individual tones and bells to something new. Looking for different ideas. This will be for a small paid Dept. with 24/7 staffing.

    Thanks for the input.


  2. #2
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    We're a small dept. We have 2 stations and one being built. Only one of them is manned and the one being built will be manned also, right now when the emergency line rings there is a loud buzzer that lets up know its the emergency line s ringing and wakes us up if we're sleeping(everyone except the dipatcher who is already awake.) I dont know what we're gonna do when we get the new station I believe we will then swtich to tones at all stations....whether or not the tones will be different for each station I don't know. Hope this helps.
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  3. #3
    Forum Member 33motor's Avatar
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    We have a tone system. We are on "selective call" which means that we only hear our runs that come in. We can listen to the system "open" and hear all the runs if we choose to. For medical runs, small fires etc, we have a steady tone. For structures we have a sort of "High-low" tone, and it is ONLY used for structure fire calls. We also have 2 other tones in the system, one for announcments, and another that is used for "emergency evac" of a structure. Recently, they have included the announcment tone to be an "emergency traffic" tone at working fires.

    In the last FD I was in, it was much like what firefightermatt described.

    The Dept before that it was a tone stystem that was always open. You had to count the numbers of beeps that followed the first tone to know who was going. I had it easy being at Central, one tone, then a long one to follow.
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  4. #4
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    Default Alarm notification systems

    EHS,

    Very interesting issue.

    We have as a primary system that transmits a two-tone alert and sends a "ticket"(Johnny & Roy Style) with all the response information on it. Companies assigned, Addr. cross streets, Box No., type of alarm, location(apt, etc) It also contains any information in the data base about that particular builing if an address is provided. Standpipe locations etc. This is all done over land lines. The housewatch man rings the bells according also to whom is to respond and then reads all appropriate info to the members as they are sliding the poles over the PA system. This assists all members with the size-up. He also acknoledges receipt of the alarm to the dispatcher within 20 seconds via a terminal. (A little know NFPA requirement for those of you that are worried about that sort of thing)

    Also as a back up system we have a Voice Alarm where the dispatcher can open the speakers of one firehouse or many or the entire system. This is also over land lines. Also there is the dept radio that can be monitored in the apparatus. And of course the Dept. Phone. We only hear alarms for companies in that specific Firehouse...no other alarms are heard.

    Every rig also has a Moblie Data Terminal (similar to what most Police Dept's have used for years) This subject is one area I have always felt we have been left behind by Fire Chiefs accross the country. Police Depts have had this technology for some time and many depts still use a radio voice based method and don't transimit much in the way of critical info on occupanices for the firefighters who are responding. Only some of the largest FDs have a system such as my dept.

    Most as I have found have the info sitting in a Batt. Chief vehicle where it will do him or the 1st alarm companies little good in the 1st 15 minutes. How are you to know that the sprinklers only cover the warehouse and not office area of a building at 0300??? This info would keep you from wasting time initially suppling the siamese and instead put your Engines to work stretching the 2 1/2" handlines. This is the kind of critical info that many depts are missing on daily responses.

    I formerly worked in a dept that had a similar situation such as yours. I can definately say the current system I use is far supperior. There we had to wake up and sit through nummerous tones before knowing if we were to respond or not. Then the driver would have to write down as much info as he could or remember as much as possible, sometimes getting some info wrong. You didn't always know who else was on the alarm, and you would have to rely on a dispatcher to pass on critical info. Or as was the case many times the critical info about the builing was located on paper file in the trunk of the Batt Chief. A system such as yours and the one I used to use I always thought would seem to be more suited for Volunteer or very small paid depts(1 or 2 companies). Medium or Growing depts probably are not an appropriate use of that type system. That has been my experience, perhaps there are some other considerations for you. The system isn't cheap but it is worth it in providing an improved and profesional service for you and the civilians.

    Best of Luck.

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  5. #5
    Early Adopter cozmosis's Avatar
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    We're a small combination department. 911 communications is in the same building as my station... and, once upon a time, the dispatcher would ring house bells to alert the firefighters and announce the call over the PA. Now, we use minitor pagers that allows information to be dispatched to everyone at once (instead of once on the radio and once over the PA).

  6. #6
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    On the EMS Department I ride along with, we have 1 station of our own, and since we cover another city thats a good haul away, we have a unit up at a station there too. This system uses 2 tones that are very close, except for the end 'beeps' which sets off the buzzers/horns in the correct station.

    On the FD I ride with, they have 2 tones (Fire / Medical) and 2 stations. The city is pretty well divided into an 'H' (Two roads that run parallel and one road that connects the two). Each side has distinct names, so knowing which unit responds isnt a big deal for Medicals. On all fire tones both primary engines go. Period.

  7. #7
    Temporarily/No Longer Active July36's Avatar
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    We have 3 types of alerting systems...

    # 1 is an outdoor siren at 127 db at 100ft...we use this because we are "out in the sticks" and some of the firefighters dont keep thier radios turned on or dont have any radios at all.

    #2 is we use a radiotelephone system...meaning when somebody calls us...the radios sound similiar to a cellphone ringing...but much louder...and we can answer the call thru our radios whether were around the station or not...just as long as were within range of the repeaters.

    #3 is we adapted a tone system into the radios that is "in-station only that goes over the loudspeakers.This tone system is just like the ones used in "Emergency"(a 2-tone...then a buzzer).These are also programmed into the radiotelephones so we can switch from "telephone" to "tone". LOL@FFFFRED

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  8. #8
    Forum Member Dave1105's Avatar
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    We have a centralised communications/command center that takes all our 000 (Australian version of 911) calls. The Call taker puts all information into our CAD system which then detirmines which brigades to respond automatically. Brigades are then dispatched by alphaneumeric pager. Any page prefixed by the word "ALERT" is a job requring a response and this key-word will trigger the pager decoder in each station to activate station alarms. This varys from station to station, some volunteer stations will have it hooked up to a siren as a backup because pager coverage is limited, whereas others will have a small beep. It also can be hooked up to other systems such as engine warmers, turn-out timers, car-park lighting etc.

    In order to detirmine which brigades to respond our CAD system has within it street maps for every area covered. Each map is designated into sections and the closest brigade is attached to these sections as a Primary* Brigade. Brigades can be assigned any number of sectons... some larger brigades have 15 or so. In the case of mine, we cover 4. Additionally to assigning a primary brigade to each section a support** brigade is also assigned. Each emergency call the primary brigade and the support brigade will be paged. Which brigade is primary will be indicted by the second keyword. For example, if the primary brigade was Frankston it would read "ALERT FTON".

    The third keyword we recieve then designates which category the job falls under. Which are, STRUCTURE, NON-STRUCTURE, INCIDENT, GRASS & SCRUB and ALARM. Tacked on the end of this code word is also what initial response code the job is. Code 1 or Code 3. In our system Code 1 is lights and bells. Code 3 is normal traffic conditions. So for example a house fire would be "STRUC1".

    After that we then recieve in plain english what type of job we are responding to, followed by it's address. Lastly, we recieve the next two nearest cross streets, a map reference and the job number. A full page would read:

    "ALERT FTON STRUC1 House Fire 12 Smith St Frankston South. /Bob St //Jones Lane M101 X12 F02122121"

    For alarmed premesis each alarm is also assigned a number. When alarms are paged this number will also be paged, which corresponds to a number in our key cabinet and also the pre-plan book.

    The system is shared accross both Volunteer and Staff brigades.

    * Primary Brigade means the closest brigade to this area. Brigades responding to their own Primary Calls may respond as many appliances as their officer sees fit.

    * Support Brigade generally means the second closet brigade. These brigades may only respond one appliance initially.... until further appliances are requested. Officers from support brigades also do not outrank primary officers. So for example even if the OIC of an appliance from a support brigade is a captain and the OIC of the primary brigade is a leuitennant, the leuitennant is still in charge of the job.
    Last edited by Dave1105; 10-29-2003 at 01:27 AM.

  9. #9
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    Default Here are two systems...

    Everywhere on our county system, we are alerted on either high-VHF or low-VHF (depedning where in the county you are), primarily via pagers using two-tone systems. Any given station may have a number of sets of tones...

    1. General alert tones: Every station has one set of these, and they are the primary means of alerting everyone from a particular station for an emergency call or other detail.

    2. Siren tones: The stations that still use house sirens have these, and they are used to trip the house sirens via stationary monitors, when run cards call for them.

    3. Officer tones: Many stations have a separate set of tones used to page officers only, usually for non-emergency details and information.

    4. Fire Police tones: A few stations have a set of tones used only to alert fire police for traffic details on which no apparatus are due.

    Some stations have in-house bells or monitors, and some don't. Most are not staffed on a regular basis, so these systems aren't critical.


    In our county seat, there is a 24x7 staffed combo department with 3 aerials, 1 rescue, and 6 engines staffed by 4 platoons of 20 firefighters and two chiefs each, plus any volunteers that happen to be around. They also use two-tone station alerting on high-VHF, in tandem with two-way field communications on an 800 Mhz system. They have:

    One set of tones for each company. These are used for local alarms, medical runs, and such.

    One set of "box" tones, which trip the house bells and monitors in all stations simultaneously, and these are used for any full alarm assignments (1st, 2nd, etc.).

    Misc. tone pairs for paging of chiefs, fire marshall, etc.

    The theory there is that everybody needs to know about box alarms, as they pull at least 3 engines, 1 aerial and the rescue, meaning that everybody else has to be ready to cover wider areas than usual or be ready for escalation in alarms.

    Anyway, hope this helps you...

  10. #10
    Forum Member MrJim911's Avatar
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    I dispatch for 4 Fire departments. There are series of tones for each department that are the same except that and they only activate pagers and station tones for that particular department I'm toning a call out for. The tones are heard in all stations of the town with the call. And I agree with FFFRED, only 1 of my FD's have MDC's and they are a recent purchase and not even working yet. And only one other of my FD's are looking at getting them. If I could send down the call info to the responding apparatus that would be great. It would help cut back on alot of radio traffic.

  11. #11
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    In the Vollie dept: everything for city and county fd's goes out over the radio. stations have radio monitored over intercom, so if it's not you, you still get to wake up and hear it. vollies carry portable radios with page function so at least you can shut off the conversation.

    work: uses the Zetron system, carried over city's fiber optic system to all of the 21 fire stations and the training center. each station has an all station tone, used for announcements to all stations at the same time, and also separate tones for each company. if there is a single company response out of the station, that station (and only that station) gets the appropriate engine, ladder, ambulance, or district officer tone. the lights in the dormitories and a speaker comes on to get the info. we also get a dispatch printout that has information gathered on company surveys (emer. contacts, utility locations, property tax/valuation information, special comments, etc.)

    prior to the fiber optic network, the Zetron came over the radio, triggered by a decoder for a 4-tone trigger. (think hearing your touchtone phone: 7801 was station 1, 7811 station 11, etc.) this turned on the lights and speaker for the entire station, and there was no way to differentiate between companies in this system.

  12. #12
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    In the Vollie dept: everything for city and county fd's goes out over the radio. stations have radio monitored over intercom, so if it's not you, you still get to wake up and hear it. vollies carry portable radios with page function so at least you can shut off the conversation.

    work: uses the Zetron system, carried over city's fiber optic system to all of the 21 fire stations and the training center. each station has an all station tone, used for announcements to all stations at the same time, and also separate tones for each company. if there is a single company response out of the station, that station (and only that station) gets the appropriate engine, ladder, ambulance, or district officer tone. the lights in the dormitories and a speaker comes on to get the info. we also get a dispatch printout that has information gathered on company surveys (emer. contacts, utility locations, property tax/valuation information, special comments, etc.)

    prior to the fiber optic network, the Zetron came over the radio, triggered by a decoder for a 4-tone trigger. (think hearing your touchtone phone: 7801 was station 1, 7811 station 11, etc.) this turned on the lights and speaker for the entire station, and there was no way to differentiate between companies in this system.

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