1. #1
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    Default Radio headsets in vehicles

    I am asking your help in feedback from people that use radio headsets in their vehicles while enroute to a call, returning, training, etc.

    We have been awarded a large grant to buy a totally new radio system from a new repeater to pagers. We also would like to install headsets in all the vehicles. Some officers want just the driver and officer to have headsets. I think everyone should have headsets. What kind of problems have you run into? Are they cumbersome while enroute to a call while putting on gear? I've done lots of research and would love some feedback here. I am pushing the David Clark headsets that you can wear your helmet with as well.

    Any and all comments are welcome. Thanks!!
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    Altoona Fire Rescue
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    Theres really not too many "bad" points about having headsets. We had them in my old Dept. About the only problem I ever remember was some wind noise here and there, coming through the mic of the guys in the jumpseats. If you have open jumseats then they are nice, you see a compartment door that got left open etc, you can easily tell the driver etc. To me they are not something I would go after if there were other things we needed more. I know there's always something else to get,... but they are just not a high priority to me. In fact, I think I never wore mine on the way to a fire.. ever. They end up being a good way to BS when you are just out and about. Some guys hardly ever wore them. They can sometimes be a "novelty" item.. the new wears off and everyone just sort either wears them, or they don't.

    Anyway, that's just my opinion. All in all, if you have to dough to spend... why the heck not. It's always good to be able to hear everyone on the rig at all times. They (in the back) may see the fire at a "smoke in area" call.. or any number of things that may need to be said to the guys up front.
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    My part time department has David Clark and they are great. Every seat should have them. (only the driver and officer can transmit over the air) Nothing beats them for communication and hearing protection.
    If your worried about the driver not hearing traffic leave the speaker out of the left ear. You'll still have the hearing protection but be able to hear traffic.

    My full time department doesn't have them and almost everyone has hearing loss. Most out of the left ear where the siren is.

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    We have them but don't use them anymore. Guys complained they got caught up in the wire while putting their SCBA's on in the jumpseats. Also, our longest ride on the truck is about 3 minutes, so there is not too much talking going anyway. My recommendation is that if you do get them, get them for every seat, otherwise the guys that don't have them won't know whats going on. We opted for a speaker in the crew cab so all can hear the radio talk and know what's going on a little better.
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    With limited experience (don't get to ride our Ladder with the David Clarks too often), I like them but don't don them until after SCBA is all set. So for a nearby call they don't come into play, but for a long mutual aid run they are nice.

    Used to have a Mack CF w/ turbo charger for our ladder...if you had a mutual aid run guys would scramble to not be the one in the right hand jumpseat, that turbo would kick in and you'd be half-deaf for the rest of the call!

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    We use them in our trucks. The driver & officer only has one side so he can hear traffic. The rear jump seats have both and those don't transmit. It is especially nice on the first out open cab at the #1 station. We have speakers mounted but those are worthless. The headsets are required on the open cab by our SOG's for hearing protection.
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    We use Firecom. They work well, especially when you are trying to monitor radio traffic. It sure is nice to be able to talk in a normal voice and be heard.

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    I think the brand we use is Sigtronics. I like them. We're set up where everyone on board has a headset and only the driver and officer can transmit, and a transmit on the pump panel. We have our cables rigged where they hook up behind us, but run over our heads and in front of us on a hook so they're not in the way while we bunker up. Haven't had a lick of problems getting tangled up. They definitely cut out a lot of the siren and engine noise so you can actually communicate with each other and you don't have a headache because of the sirens. If you get them for the guys up front only, you're going to run into a communication problem, the guys without headsets can hear the guys with, but not the other way around.

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    When we first got them we used them but over time they have become pain in the *****. We really don't use them anymore.

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    We have them on two of our engines and I personally like them. There are a few that don't and they choose not to wear them, and they can still hear the speaker on the radio in the truck. We have Firecom and they seem to work really well.

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    We are looking at both David Clark and Firecom headsets. I think I have most of them sold on all or none because of the communication problem. Didn't think about only the one ear for the driver and officer. Good point.
    Keep em coming!

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    Lt.Jason Knecht
    Altoona Fire Rescue
    Altoona, WI

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    We recieved a grant last year for firecom in our engines and tanker. EVERYBODY in the engine should have them. The only problem I have hear was the people saying they couldn't shift the tanker with the headsets on, because they were use to the engine noise(they got use to it). It's great to be able to hear everyone and radio while going to a call. The person who installed our firecom (doesn't work for firecom) said firecom was easier to replace wire (more common)and didn't have to drill big hole for the plugs on David Clark. I never used a David Clark so not an expert on them. Hope this helps.

    Matt

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    All of our vehicles have the headsets, even the ambulances. I have found that that they block out quite a bit of the siren and Q noise, but allow enough noise through that they are not a hazard for the driver. I can hear the pump engage with them on.

    I highly reccommend them for all riding positions, with the driver and officer having the ability to transmit.
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    All of our apparatus have headsets, and we use them. In the case of our Quint's, you pretty much have to use them, due to the divider between the driver-officer, and the rest, plus I like hearing what's going on before you get a surprise as you pull up on the scene. Same with the Wagon or the Engines. Did have a problem in the beginning about getting tangled while donning the SCBA, but it's not a problem now with more experience. Definitely a must with our Tower.
    With our ambo's, they all have them, though half are used/half not due to ease of talking between cab and box.

    I always wear mine, especially if I'm driving, so I'm sure to hear any radio traffic, plus I want to keep what I have of my hearing, as my servitude with Uncle Sam lost me some to a degree, so.....

    Clark's seem to stick in my mind, as far as name-brand go.

    On our fire apparatus, only the driver & officer can transmit over the RT. In the ambos, transmission from the cab use the standard microphone, if you need to talk from the box, we have an over-ride switch so there's no "accidental" transmitting.

    Just my experience...

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    We don't have them for the seats at this point, although I think we have it in plans for our new rescue being built. Not sure though. What do have however, is a headset for the pump operators portable radio. It makes an AMAZING difference. With just the speaker-mic, it is really hard to hear clearly what people are asking for. Especially if that request is being made by someone wearing a mask or hyped up... or both. With the headset, you hear everything crysal clear and the other people can hear you. Enough sound gets through to hear what is going on around you but it significantly reduces the screaming pump sound.

    We were at an MVA once and I was doing traffic at one end in this horrible heavy rain. The regular portable battery was dead so I was stuck with the headset radio. I'm told I looked like some guy on the deck of an aircraft carrier with the double-muff headsets and two lighted traffic wands directing F-16's.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Excellent!

    So I think I will recommend to get one ear for the driver and officer and get both for the rest of the crew. There will be some bitching about wearing them and then the headset but like anything else, just takes time to get used to it.

    thanks for your help.

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    We just got them in our engines a month or 2 ago. When I am the engineer I don't mind wearing them but when I am in a SCBA seat working to get packed up the wire gets in the way. In time I am sure I will get used to it and like it.
    The only real drawback to wearing it is that my officer breaths too heavy into the mic and it gets annoying...... LOL!

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    We use Fire comm.head set's in all our trucks and engiens. We have had no problems getting our firefighters to use them in route to calls, they don't always use them on the way back to the station. Before we had the head set's we had problems hearing the radio at the pump panle.

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    The only problem we've had was when we got water on the male plug, so when the operator plugged it back in it activated the button you use to talk. We had an open mike until we got home and figured what happened.

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    We have them and they're great. Only complaint that hasn't been mentioned is that you need to remember to remove them when you get on scene. Of course if it's not you it's pretty funny to see. Just a matter of getting in the habit, though.

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    We just got headsets in our Ladder 1 and love them.
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    Originally posted by nmfire
    What do have however, is a headset for the pump operators portable radio. It makes an AMAZING difference. With just the speaker-mic, it is really hard to hear clearly what people are asking for. ... With the headset, you hear everything crysal clear and the other people can hear you.
    Not always. We, too, have a portable radio with headset available for the engineer. There is also one in the chief's car. I don't like to wear them because (1) I can't hear live humans through the dead (non-speaker) ear and (2) I look extrememly goofy. Also, if I'm monitoring radio traffic, I can tell who is wearing a headset and who is not. With our Clark head sets, there is always added static.

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    A headset should not be adding "static" to anything. If it makes your audio worse, then something is wrong with the headset or the way it is connected to the radio. The very few times I have had to use the headset, I didn't find hearing humans a problem. They are all different when it comes to insulation.
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    Originally posted by nmfire
    A headset should not be adding "static" to anything. If it makes your audio worse, then something is wrong with the headset or the way it is connected to the radio. The very few times I have had to use the headset, I didn't find hearing humans a problem. They are all different when it comes to insulation.
    Every time our chief transmits on his or one particular field portable transmits with a headset, there is added static.

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    Originally posted by cozmosis


    Every time our chief transmits on his or one particular field portable transmits with a headset, there is added static.
    Well, thats nice. Something is wrong with ALL OF THEM on your system. Has anyone bothered to have your radio service company look at and/or fix what is broken??

    One other thing that can cause this... Do you by chance have the cord for the headset wrapped around the radio's antenna??
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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